“A Prophet” (2009)

Director Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, France’s submission for the 2010 Academy Awards and one of the Best Foreign Film nominees, got all sorts of good reviews when it came out, and won all sorts of awards. I’ve seen his previous films, Read My Lips and The Beat that My Heart Skipped, and was impressed by both. A Prophet is much more ambitious, though. At more than 2 and a half hours, it’s the story of a 19-year-old Arab kid in France who goes to prison, and gets an education, in many senses of the word, along the way. He falls in with a gang of Corsicans, who give him protection, yet continually deride him racially. He learns the basics of business, both in and out of prison, as he serves his term. It’s a fascinating character study, with some magical realism thrown in. Several times during the film, I felt momentarily lost and had the urge to stop the DVD and ask questions of my husband. Instead, I gave myself the advice I repeat to 4yo Guppy: keep watching and maybe you’ll figure it out. And I did. For all its length, the film often proceeds at a fast clip, yet when I went with the flow, I got reoriented quickly enough. Long, challenging, violent, but beautiful, thought provoking, and very, very good.

Comments are closed.