A Prophet

August 26th, 2009

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A Prophet

Still of Tahar Rahim in A ProphetStill of Leïla Bekhti and Tahar Rahim in A ProphetA ProphetA ProphetStill of Tahar Rahim and Pierre Leccia in A ProphetStill of Tahar Rahim in A Prophet

A young Arab man is sent to a French prison where he becomes a mafia kingpin.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 8.0/10 (33,023 voted)

Critic's Score: 90/100

Director: Jacques Audiard

Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif

Nineteen year-old Franco-Arab Malik El Djebena is just starting his six year prison sentence in Brécourt. Although he has spent the better part of his life in juvenile detention, this stint is his first in an adult prison. Beyond the division of Corsicans and Muslims in the prison (the Corsicans who with their guard connections rule what happens in the prison), he has no known friends or enemies inside. He is just hoping to serve his time in peace and without incident, despite having no prospects once he's out of jail since he's illiterate and has no support outside of the prison. Due to logistics, the head of Corsican inmates, a sadistic mafioso named César Luciani, co-opts Malik as part of the Corsicans' activities, not only regarding what happens inside the prison, but also continued criminal activities outside. The innocent Malik has no idea what to do but cooperate...

Writers: Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard

Tahar Rahim - Malik El Djebena
Niels Arestrup - César Luciani
Adel Bencherif - Ryad
Reda Kateb - Jordi
Hichem Yacoubi - Reyeb
Jean-Philippe Ricci - Vettori
Gilles Cohen - Prof
Pierre Leccia - Sampierro
Antoine Basler - Pilicci
Foued Nassah - Antaro
Jean-Emmanuel Pagni - Santi
Frédéric Graziani - Chef de détention
Leïla Bekhti - Djamila
Rabah Loucif - L'avocat de Malik
Slimane Dazi - Lattrache


Official Website: Official Facebook page | Official US website |

Release Date: 26 August 2009

Filming Locations: Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8, Paris, France

Box Office Details

Budget: €12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: £312,237 (UK) (24 January 2010) (75 Screens)

Gross: $2,084,637 (USA) (27 June 2010)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | France:

Did You Know?

Prior to making this film, Jacques Audiard had screened a film to prisoners in France. Shocked by the conditions in the prison facility, he decided his next film would take place in one.

[first lines]
Prisoner: Take these handcuffs off!

User Review

You live in prison and what you live isn't giving any concessions to reality.

Rating: 9/10

"Un prophète" tells the story of a somewhat naive but intelligent young inmate from Arabic origins who rises through the criminal ranks to become a big boss. Serve with an outstanding cast and an almost exclusively males and non-professional actors, the film of Jacque Audiard manages to prove that you don't need a so called bankable actor/actress in order to make a masterpiece.

What you need is a vision, an excellent scenario and a perfect casting. Set mainly within prison walls, the film depicts the prison "career" of Malik el Djebena, a 19-year-old man of North African origin who was sentenced to six years in prison. At his arrival in prison, Malik (wonderfully played by Tahar Rahim) is forced by Cesar Luciani, a Corsican kingpin (played by the excellent Niels Arestrup) to kill a prisoner named Reyeb. What follows is a powerful film that grabs your attention from beginning to end. The film works on so many levels and yet achieves excellence in all of them. "Un prophète" works as a social description of the hellish atmosphere one could encounter in prison. The promiscuity, the dirtiness, the drug, the sex, the corruption are detailed through very well drawn out characters and situations. You live in prison and what you live isn't giving any concessions to reality. "Un prophète" is a thrilling gangster film deprave of any sort of Manichaeism. Between the buildings of a drug business, the contract to assassinate a mafia kingpin, the negotiation with a local mobster and the rise to power of a young bandit or "racaille", the film manages to link every single story and wrap them all in one big and dark vision of what the French society can also produce. Eventually the film triggers so many emotions; in 150 minutes the audience balances from bitterness to injustice and from violence to peace. Jacques Audiard and Stéphane Fontaine (director of photography) controlled with mastery both the "mise en scène" and the cinematography. Using here stop motion there torch like effect and opposing darkness to light they cut out possible definitions for the words loyalty or betrayal, friendship or servitude, destiny or curse.

The director of the excellent "de battre mon coeur s'est arrêté " and the very good "sur mes lèvre" signs here a haunting movie a unique cinematographic and emotional experience, a masterpiece.

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