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Film / A Prophet

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A Prophet (original title Un Prophète) is a crime drama film directed by Jacques Audiard, released in 2009. It follows the steps of Malik El Djebena, a young French man of Arab descent who is sent to prison after an altercation with a police officer. There, he soon finds himself under the wing of César Luciani, a veteran Corsican crime boss who recruits him to extend his grip in prison to the Muslim section. Malik's assignments will lead him deeper into the underworld as he works his way up through the ranks.

The film was critically acclaimed, earning many awards and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It stars Tahar Rahim as Malik and Niels Arestrup as Luciani, as well as Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb and Hichem Yacoubi in supporting roles.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: El Djebena may be a criminal, but not one without redeeming qualities.
  • Bad Boss: Luciani is not above threatening or physically disciplining his mooks. A case of Truth in Television, since this is a prison film.
  • Batman Gambit: Malik pulls an epic one which leads to the riot mentioned below.
    • After triggering said riot, he returns to jail the day after he was supposed to, ensuring he is sent to an isolated cell as punishment, safe from the incoming bloodbath.
  • Book Dumb: Malik starts the film as illiterate, learning to read in prison.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Malik hallucinates Reyeb from time to time and occasionally talks to him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Malik's entire character arc leads to this.
  • The Dragon: Vettori is this to Luciani.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Malik's dream with the running deer.
  • Enemy Civil War: Malik triggers one In the Coriscan Mob by unveiling Luciani's plot, resulting in the Prison Riot below.
  • Eye Scream: César shoves a spoon into Malik's eye when he risks his outings, impairing his vision for some time.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: One of the more compelling takes on this trope in crime movie cinema. Interestingly, Malik arguably becomes a wiser, better man while becoming a more dangerous criminal.
  • Functional Addict: Jordi 'the Gypsy' is as good a hashish user as he is a dealer.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much all of the Corsican mob are very unpleasant assholes.
  • Join or Die: After his first meeting with Luciani, Malik doesn't really have much of a choice.
  • Locked in the Dungeon: Prisoners who break the rules are put in an isolated, dimly lit cell for some time.
  • The Mafia: El Djebena becomes involved with the Corsican mob when he's in prison.
  • Na├»ve Newcomer: El Djebena starts out as this.
  • The Old Convict: Luciani.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Corsican mob constantly insults Malik for his Arab ancestry.
  • Prison Riot: A brutal one ensues among the Corsican inmates towards the end.
  • Slashed Throat: How Malik kills Reyeb. Slashed carotid artery, to be more precise.
  • Title Drop: Lattrache asks Malik whether he's a prophet after his car hits a deer he warned him about.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Ryad, who goes on to become Malik's best friend, suffers from testicular cancer and ends up dying from it.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the end of the film Malik has gone from small time hoodlum to a respected crime boss.
  • Villain Decay: The last time we see Luciani -with most (if not all) of his crew either transferred or dead- he is not as threatening anymore.
  • Villain Protagonist: What Malik ultimately is, even though he is pretty sympathetic at times.