A ProphetEver since the French crime drama, A Prophet, was unveiled at Cannes last May, where it won the Grand Jury prize, it has received incredible reviews. At the London Film Festival back in October it was awarded the inaugural Best Film award, and the jury president Angelica Huston declared it to be 'a masterpiece, an instant classic and a perfect film.'

High praise indeed, but now see what we thought of it... img hspace="4" border="1" align="right" vspace="4" alt="A Prophet" id="vimage_1" src="http://www.blogcdn.com/blog.moviefone.com/media/2010/01/aprophet1_200x225.jpg" />A Prophet (18)

Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup
Director: Jacques Audiard
Film length: 155 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here

What¹s it all about? France¹s Jacques Audiard has been steadily building audiences with films that combine a crime setting with vivid characters and emotional depth. Now the director of Read My Lips and The Beat That My Heart Skipped presents a touching prison drama that evolves into a riveting gangster thriller. When illiterate, vulnerable 19-year-old French Arab Malik (Tahar Rahim) arrives for his first spell in grown-up jail, the dominant Corsican gang make him an offer her can¹t refuse: kill a fellow Arab inmate, who they need eliminating, or be killed. By doing so, Malik earns their protection, and a low-status position in their gang, but over the course of
his sentence his ambitions and abilities evolve.

What¹s good about it? It¹s a gripping story with contemporary resonance, which expertly engages your sympathy for a character that becomes untethered to morality. Audiard is brilliantly served by his leading man: newcomer Tahar Rahim, who since A Prophet¹s Cannes premiere has won Best Actor at the European Film Awards, and been nominated for our own BAFTA Orange Rising Star.

What¹s not so good? Some critics have quibbled over the odd implausibility, while anyone averse to either violence or subtitles should avoid. A running time of two-and-a-half hours might put off a few, but be assured that the minutes fly by.

Verdict: A Prophet was pipped to the Cannes Palme D¹Or by Michael Haneke¹s White Ribbon, instead scooping up the Grand Prix Du Jury (second prize). Most audiences would place the films in a different order. Although it¹s only January, we¹ll be surprised if we see a better movie this year, in any language. And unless this turns out to be a debut fluke, Rahim is set to become the next major French actor: don¹t miss the birth of a star in the making.

Rating: 10 out of 10

categories Reviews