Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), an Arab, has entered to prison at the tender age of 19, sentenced to do 6 long years. Malik must now learn to survive within the confined walls and prison politics. Being the new guy, Malik is approached by a gang and ordered to assassinate an inmate, who is ready to talk against a mafia boss outside the jail, otherwise he will be killed. What Malik doesn’t know is how this assassination will forever change his life. After performing the act he was assigned, Malik takes on a life of his own and while he continued to take order from the mob he began planning right under those who mistreated him, but at what cost?
A Prophet was not exactly a title that called my attention; personally I have not been interested in foreign cinema maybe because of the lack of exposure. However, Sony’s recent title releases have opened up the doors to something completely different than what I am used to. After watching A Prophet for the first time I couldn’t help but to wonder on certain aspects of the film. I was definitely left with some after thoughts that perhaps needed a second viewing in order to comprehend what I had just watched. I suppose if a movie does just that, it has accomplished its task, right?
Upon my second viewing I came to a few conclusions and realized the second time around the movie was so much better. A Prophet was not exactly easy to watch thanks to the intricacy and complexity of the subject. Malik’s transformation is slow, but simply effective. The viewer is always shown the way corruption begins over Malik and his new take on life after that. We see Malik’s psychological effects that he goes through as the years go by and he is still in prison. One aspect of this view is he constantly sees Reyeb, the inmate he killed when he first arrived at the prison, symbolizing the transformation he went through, the loss of his innocence, and perhaps the moment that shifted his entire life upside down.
Director Jacques Audiard does an excellent job at portraying the various effects and consequences that Malik goes through. Showing Malik’s different stages without holding back proved to have an excellent end result. Tahar Rahim, the actor who plays Malik is uncanny. He was able to deliver an excellent performance by completely taking over the character and showing every raw emotion to perfection. His ability to seamlessly portray every stage the character goes through deserves a round of applause. He truly left me that Rahim was indeed experiencing the same situation and feelings as Malik. The entire production is excellent and there’s nothing really to complaint about, this was an easy 5.
A Prophet arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.85:1. At first glance you will instantly see the blue/gray tint that is over the image, but this only helps to fit the feel of the prison and it doesn’t affect the image whatsoever. The colors appear dull because of that tint used, but during the outside scenes the colors have this nice vibrancy and pop. Black levels are deep and well reproduced throughout. Fine details are exceptional, facial shots reveal the intricate skin textures, texture on clothing is more apparent, and more. Details simply look amazing. Skin tones have a natural look. Unfortunately, for those that have a problem with grain are going to be disappointed as A Prophet sports a heavy grain structure that technically fits in perfectly to the look the director intended. There are no visible anomalies in the video transfer.
A Prophet arrives on Blu-ray with a French (Parisian) 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. For those that do not like to read I will go ahead and tell you that A Prophet does NOT include an English track. This is a dialog driven film, but there’s enough to satisfy even some of those audiophiles. Dialog is clean, clear and crisp at all times. The dialog never becomes overwhelmed even during chaotic scenes. The rears are used on various scenes for atmospherics and ambience to provide that much higher sense of immersion. The bass is decent, but it does lack and doesn’t fully support the gun shots towards the end of the movie. Otherwise, there are various scenes with music playing that sound absolutely amazing. Overall, A Prophet sounds exceptional.
There aren’t many extras found on the Blu-ray edition of A Prophet so without taking much of your time, check below for a breakdown of each supplement.
Audio Commentary – This track features Director Jacques Audiard, Co-Writer Thomas Bidegain, and Tahar Rahim. This track is very informative as it covers many of the topics behind the movie. If you need further insight on the film itself you must listen to this track. The track is in French with English subtitles.
Deleted Scenes – There are four (4) in total
Trailers – Movie trailer for The Secret in Their Eyes, Get Low, Please Give, Mother and Child, Cemetery Junction, Micmacs, The White Ribbon, and The Last Station.
A Prophet is thought provoking, intricate, and complex, but even then it proves to be a triumphant film. Director Jacques Audiard and Cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine have crafted an instant crime classic in my book and I am sure that it will be remembered for a long time. How A Prophet didn’t get an Oscar is beyond me. Tahar Rahim is sensational in the role of Malik portraying the character’s ups and downs without a hitch. The Blu-ray offers exceptional video and audio transfer. Personally, I wish that more supplements had been included, but the audio commentary left me very satisfied. If you are into foreign films or are just simply a movie lover I highly recommend it.