Oscar-nominated as Best Foreign Language Film from France, A Prophet is a prison film like The Godfather is a gangster film. Meaning this knockout punch of a thriller surpasses its trappings to speak in a universal language about the ways power corrupts the human condition. Newcomer Tahar Rahim is astounding as Malik, 19, an illiterate Arab who begins serving six years by bootlicking César (Niels Arestrup), an imprisoned Corsican crime boss. César tests Mailk by forcing him to kill a fellow Muslim prisoner. Arestrup is altogether remarkable as a Dr. Frankenstein outmaneuvered by the monster he helps to create. Director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) scores a triumph of the highest order with the defiant poetry of his vision. A Prophet is a new crime classic.
From The Archives Issue 140: August 2, 1973