Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Audiard's Academy Award-Nominated A PROPHET opens -- to haunt us, every one
Jacques Audiard, TrustMovies is fairly certain that he will never want to miss any of this fellow's work.
While Audiard is not among my favorite film-
makers (perhaps because his quirks and my own don't mesh), still, his films never fail to surprise and move me, even if I am often put into a singularly bad mood by the time of their finale. The man's latest and also his best -- the Academy-nominated and Cannes/BAFTA/European Film Award-winning A PROPHET (Un Prophète) -- is another example of his odd mix. While I cannot in good conscience say I "enjoyed" the movie, it has not left my mind for long over the two months since I first viewed it. There are ideas, moments, contradictions -- even entire scenes -- that simply will not go away.
Emmanuelle Devos in Read My Lips). Since the setting for his newest work is a prison, we have nothing but the criminal element in which to bathe. The director/co-writer (with Thomas Bidegain, Abdel Raouf Dafri and Nicolas Peufaillit) offers us up a "hero" who is as close to a tabula rasa as you might find: an illiterate, half Arab/half French, blank slate (his parents have long ago left him) who having already been in prison several times, must now serve six years there. This character, Malik, is played by Tahar Rahim (shown below, who earlier essayed the role of one of the unfortunate policemen in Inside) in what should be a career-making performance. Slight and with petite features that, in prison at least, would mark him the "femme," Malik draws the attention of another Arab, Reyeb (a wise and sexy Hichem Yacoubi), who propositions him in the showers but is immediately rebuffed.
Niels Arestrup, shown below, in a performance as rich and full as it is ugly) makes him the group's lap dog & gopher.
phenomenal. Yet Audiard makes it believable, if sometimes frust-
ratingly dense. A Prophet runs a full two-and-one-half hours and is packed with plot and incident. The changing face of France (and by extension the west) is seen in the prison yard, cells & power struc-
ture; Audiard makes this clear without unnecessary underscoring.
Sony Pictures Classics, A Prophet open this Friday in New York City and the Los Angeles area, with a very wide national rollout in the weeks and months to come. You can find all the dates/cities/theaters here.