The Sight and Sound gala screening of Cannes Jury Prize winner Un Prophete (A Prophet) went down a storm over the weekend. And highlighted once again the stiff competition facing films in the inaugural ‘Best Film’ category introduced this year. (For the record, other films on the shortlist are: Balibo, Bright Star, Fantastic Mr Fox, MICMAC, Nowhere Boy, A Prophet, The Road, A Serious Man, The White Ribbon).
A Prophet would be a deserved winner, but I feel that when the Jury announce their decision tonight, it might lean in favour of the the only Brit entry (and Closing Night film) Nowhere Boy, in keeping with the festival’s British roots. However they could do a lot worse then plumping for A Prophet.
Director Jacques Audiard (The Beat that My Heart Skipped) French prison drama is a tense, at times violent, political look at life in a tough French prison, following the actions of 19-year old Malik El Djebena (newcomer Tahar Rahim). Malik enters prison with no history, no family and no friends (we never find out why he’s serving a six year sentence), an ‘Arab’ but not Muslim, he falls into no-mans land below the ‘Coriscans’, a group of prisoners who seemingly run the prison from the inside and the ‘Muslims’ – and goes to any means necessary in order to survive.
Malik’s journey is fascinating and Audiard’s look at the French political system and attitudes to faith are insightful. One of the best Prison drama’s i’ve seen in recent years.