'A Prophet': In Prison, A Teenager Grows Up Fast Sentenced to six years in a French prison, 19-year-old Malik learns quickly that there's quick death around every corner. But under the eye of a veteran gangster who's both a mentor and a cruel boss, he learns to hold his own among the most dangerous of men. Jacques Audiard's powerfully emotional film is a contender for the foreign-language film Oscar. (Recommended)
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'A Prophet': In Prison, A Teenager Grows Up Fast

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'A Prophet': In Prison, A Teenager Grows Up Fast

Review

Movies

'A Prophet': In Prison, A Teenager Grows Up Fast

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Its only March, but our movie critic is ready to name one of the best films of the year. The French film "A Prophet" has been the talk of the international film world since it won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year. Heres Kenneth Turans review.

KENNETH TURAN: "A Prophet" is part prison movie, part crime story, part intense personal drama. It's also an answered prayer, if you believe that using modern touches to bring new life to old-fashioned movies makes for the most compelling kind of cinema. The film's protagonist is a rootless young Arab named Malik, who arrives at a French prison at age 19 to begin doing a six-year stretch. Friendless, barely literate and highly vulnerable in the savage, Balkanized prison environment, Malik gains our sympathy because of the open, vulnerable demeanor of young actor Tahar Rahim.

(Soundbite of the film "A Prophet")

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (French spoken)

Mr. TAHAR RAHIM (Actor): (as Malik) (French spoken)

Unidentified Man #1: (French spoken)

Mr. RAHIM: (as Malik) (French spoken)

Unidentified Man #1: (French spoken)

Mr. RAHIM: (as Malik) (French spoken)

TURAN: If Malik is at the bottom of the prison pyramid, a veteran Corsican gangster named Cesar is at the very top. This is a brutally violent, terrifying man with the dead eyes and quick-strike instincts of a cobra. The story of "A Prophet" is the violent tale of what happens to Malik during his six years inside, as he navigates the equivalent of a postgraduate course in criminal behavior.

(Soundbite of the film, "A Prophet")

Unidentified Man #2: (French spoken)

TURAN: Director Jacques Audiard has a gift for emotionally powerful storytelling, so "A Prophet" catches us up completely in Malik's quest to come into his own. To borrow a marketing phrase from another, very different film, "A Prophet" really is the movie that reminds you why you love the movies - especially movies like this one.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times, and we review more movies at npr.org.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And Im Steve Inskeep.

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