A PROPHET

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Robert Ben­ziker For The New Mex­i­can

Ma­lik (Ta­har Rahim) ar­rives in prison with vir­tu­ally no his­tory and lit­tle per­son­al­ity. Over his six-year sen­tence, he grows into a man un­der the thumb of Cor­si­can mob­ster César (the great Niels Are­strup), who openly re­gards Ma­lik as a “stupid Arab,” even while en­trust­ing him with in­creas­ingly im­por­tant tasks. The lat­est film by di­rec­tor Jac­ques Au­di­ard ( The Beat That My Heart

Skipped) is an ex­am­i­na­tion of the in­flux of Mus­lims into France and an in­dict­ment of the no­tion of prison as re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion as well as a gang­ster flick and comin­gof-age fa­ble. Rated R. 155 min­utes. In French, Ara­bic, and Cor­si­can with sub­ti­tles. Re­gal DeVar­gas, Santa Fe. (Robert Ben­ziker)

A Prophet, drama, rated R, in French, Ara­bic, and Cor­si­can with sub­ti­tles, Re­gal DeVar­gas, 3 chiles We first meet Ma­lik (Ta­har Rahim) when he ar­rives in prison. He is a young man of Mid­dle East­ern de­scent with non­de­script fea­tures, pos­sess­ing al­most no ma­te­rial ob­jects, who was raised in board­ing homes and jailed as a re­sult of a crime that gets no more than one line of di­a­logue. His pres­ence in prison is a shrug of in­evitabil­ity. Once in­side, Ma­lik finds him­self out­side of the var­i­ous eth­nic and so­cial groups there, in­clud­ing those of his fel­low Arabs, and pos­sess­ing none of the so­cial skills nec­es­sary to in­gra­ti­ate him­self or the street smarts re­quired to de­fend him­self. This is a man whose prison sen­tence, whose en­tire life, is spent in soli­tary con­fine­ment.

A Prophet is a com­ing-of-age film that stars a full-grown man who learns to grow up. Ma­lik is a blank slate on which the por­trait of an adult slowly takes shape — but what kind of adult? Given that the prison yard is his class­room, we can make some guesses, and we’d be both right and wrong. Ma­lik may be in­ex­pe­ri­enced, but he isn’t a dummy. His sen­tence is only six years, and we watch him grow from an in­tro­verted pris­oner to a self-as­sured free man over that time.

His cross to bear: Ta­har Rahim

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