A Prophet

A Prophet is a French language film directed by Jacques Audiard. It tells the story of Malik (Tahar Rahim) a young man of Arab descent who is given a long prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. The prison he is sent to is dominated by a Corsican criminal gang, led by Luciani (Niels Arestrup). The Corsicans get Malik to carry out a murder for them. When he succeeds, they place him under their protection. Luciani becomes a perverse sort of father figure, who is alternately kind and brutal towards Malik. He arranges leaves for Malik so he can carry out tasks for him. Malik takes advantage of these leaves to form his own criminal circle, dealing in drugs.

A Prophet is a study in the development of a criminal personality. When the Corsicans first approach Malik, he is revolted by the idea of killing a fellow human being. At one point, he even tries to have himself thrown into solitary confinement, just so he won’t be able to commit the murder. By the end of the movie, however, he has no compunction about killing anyone who gets in his way. Indeed, he seems to relish it. This is in keeping with the Marxist notion that consciousness is determined by material conditions. The prison in the film actually serves to create and train criminals. A Prophet calls into question our society’s whole approach to dealing with lawbreakers.

A highly recommended film.

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