Sunday, March 6, 2011

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Un Prophete
Release date: August 26, 2009
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes
French/Arabic/Corsican w/English subtitles

Another prison movie? What could this one possibly say without turning into a clich├ęd hackjob of ever other film dealing with this particular genre? Plenty, it turns out.

Malik El Djebena, an illiterate 19 year-old Frenchman of North African descent, is sent up the river on a six-year bid for attacking police officers. He becomes the unwilling pawn of a Corsican mobster named Cesar Luciani, who rules the prison with an iron grip. He is forced to assassinate a troublesome witness, whose memory haunts Malik for years afterwards. Over time Malik becomes Cesar's right-hand man, and with the additional freedom of prison furloughs Malik becomes a gangster on the outside, arranging deals for drugs inside the prison.

Betrayals and back-stabbings are par for the course in this world, but the interesting thing about this film is seeing a once young and ignorant oung man come into his own, eventually usurping his Corsican master in power and status until the old man is left with nothing and no one to cling to. Having ruled through intimidation, fear and violence, he is left a broken shell of his former self as Malik assumes his place in the prison hierarchy.

But freedom looms, and his eventual redemption at the hands of the family of a friend who succumbs to cancer becomes his saving grace. A powerfully revised rendition of the typical prison drama, with all the violence and treachery one comes to expect goes on in this netherworld. This is a definite must-see.

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