Nineteen year-old Franco-Arab Malik El Djebena has just graduated from juvenile detention to a six year stint in Brécourt prison. He seems to know enough to keep to himself and stay out of trouble, but trouble comes looking. When he gets beat up and has his shoes stolen, the Corsicans prisoners – a group who essentially run the prison, lead by the sadistic mafioso named César Luciani – take notice. It seems like this new Arab may be an outcast even within the prisons growing Arab population. He might be someone they can use.
When an opportunity arises that requires the use of a friendly Arab, César forces Malik’s allegiance making him murder a fellow Arab whilst making sure he doesn’t get caught.
The next day Malik discovers the benefits of working for César when one of César’s Corsican bodyguards hands him a shopping bag full of treats for a job well done.
Whilst Malik might be caught between a rock and a hard place – he’s unable to stop working for César and yet he gets no respect – he sees the glimmer of an opportunity and begins to secretly plan his own ascension.
A Prophet is a gritty, violent tale of racial tension, mob rule and the human struggle to define ones life.
It’s mammoth 149 minute runtime at times runs the risk of loosing the viewer, but for the most part director Jacques Audiard keeps the story focussed and more importantly, believable.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read