NZFF: A Prophet

For those reasonably familiar with veteran director Jacques Audiard his latest crime drama, A Prophet will not come as too much of a shock. Both tone and style are very much like his last film The Beat My Heart Skipped. Though gritty and bleak it shares with his other films an intense focus on the male and the process of learning. Those who expecting something akin to his most widely known directorial feature A Self Made Hero, A Prophet may be a little more startling as it retains little of Hero’s black humour.

At just nineteen years of age repeat offender Malik has never been inside a grown mens prison. He soon learns that it is nothing like the juvenile detention centres when he is forced to murder a man by the Corsican prisoners who dominate the facility. Henceforth he is under their control and protection which is more claustrophobic than the concrete walls that surround him. Time slips slowly by in this environment, punctuated by the horrors of prison life.

Niels Arestrup is outstanding in his portrayal of the aging Corsican crime lord that dogs Malik’s every step. And while A Prophet is clearly another triumph of cinema from Audiard, that it is intentionally unpleasant and paced to emphasize the dissolution of time in prison means that it is probably not going to be every viewer’s cup of tea. Best avoided by those wanting a light hearted festival experience- one for the cinephiles.

A Prophet screens in the Embassy Theatre on July 23rd and 27th, for information on screening times in your area visit:

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