When small-time thief, 19 year old arab Malik (Tahar Rahim), is thrown into prison for 6 years, he falls under the ministrations of a Corsican gang headed by mafia kingpin Luciani (Niels Arestrup). After succeeding his rite of passage (he baits himself for a sexual favor, then whacks the guy with a blade on his jugular), he officially becomes the Corsicans' "go-fer" as he gradually rises up the ladder of unseemly mafiahood. Inside the cells, he learns how to read and write, and befriends people from warring factions. He needs to cooperate with both in order to survive. He further takes advantage of his situation when he is given 12-hour leaves. But where does this take the corrupted Malik after his 6-year sentence? Will he even live to see the day?
Newcomer Tahar Rahim comes off vulnerable as the humbled youth inside the harsh environment of the French prisons. He reminds me of Jim Caviezel ("The Passion of the Christ"), and then again, he reminds me of an Arabic version of Orlando Bloom! Tell me that is a bad combination. Though the story runs for a lengthy 2 hours and 36 minutes, Malik's journey wasn't seamlessly told - but there was catharsis when he finally makes the finish line. This is an inspiring film everyone should watch - Jacques Audiard's "Un Prophete".
The film got a nomination at the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes and got the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe. Tahar Rahim won the French Oscar as Best Actor. The movie went on to win 25 other awards from different award giving bodies.
Fresh faced, boyish Tahar Rahim is one of Cannes' 2009's breakout actors. Rahim has since been very busy, appearing in 6 films if different stages of production. He will be seen next in Kevin Macdonald's "The Eagle" with Channing Tatum.
Tahar Rahim during a press conference for "A Prophet". This is also our 4th Jacques Audiard film: "A Self Made Hero" (starring our favorite actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz), "Read My Lips" (with Vincent Cassel), and "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" (with Romain Duris). Boy, Audiard sure knows how to choose his actors!