Prophete et Rebel -The Godfather Redux

What Jacques Audiard has done is reinvent the prison movie. Very much the same way Hunger reinvented it but in a more conventional linear matter. If Mcqueen's movie had all the necessities of an art film, Audiard's gangster breakthrough is very much in the same structure as Coppola's Godfather series- it tells a story from its hero's beginnings to his ultimate rise to power. It isn't only about crime but also about the social differences his country seems to be facing with the Arabic population. That -in fact- is what is most fascinating about Un Prophete (4/5), the social realities are @ the core of the films power.

Tahar Rahim is a breakthrough as Malik El Djebena - a 19 year old prisoner in a french penitentiary that is taken into arms by a Cesar (Niels Arestrup) a mob boss who's in jail for many years. Malik ends up doing a few jobs for Cesar in the stint, to which Cesar conveniently rewards him with a who's who and what's what in Italian mob relations. The friendship -if you can call it such- that Malik and Cesar develop is the heart and soul of a movie that is slightly overlong in its final stretch but hypnotic & ferocious fun.

It's also a movie that probably has more ambition than any other Hollywood picture out there in theatres- it strives for greatness and practically achieves it. There's a a rawness to Audiard's storytelling that does not go unnoticed. He invests his characters with honorable traits that flesh them out and leave you thinking it is a documentary you are watching- the hand held camera also helps and does not distract from the overall feel Audiard is trying to get @.