Tuesday, 17 September 2013

To Die For...A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009)

Many films spring to mind. I have nostalgic choices and ones based on favourite performances (Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl, Cotillard in Rust and Bone, Shoenaerts in Bullhead), but the film that sucker-punched me on its first viewing is Jacques Audiard's A Prophet. It's a frontrunner in contemporary cinema and ruins me every time I watch it. I went to see it with a couple of friends who wrote it off as being "violent' and "too long". I got that it was brutal and relentless but at the heart of the film is triumph and defiance. Malik El Djebena's (Tahar Rahim) departure from timid to invulnerable is effortless; Rahim is staggeringly good in the role. His character would never have behaved the way he does were he not in prison, and because of that he emerges a hero despite the heinous things he's forced to do. And I love a broken hero

As an audience member the relationship between Malik and Cesar Luciana (Niels Arestrup) is terrifying but engrossing. From an actor's perspective the central performances are flawless. From a girl who grew up watching gangster movies it ticks that box too. I'd seen Audiard's work before and been wowed, but, for me, A Prophet is his masterpiece. Audiard does't even use an overbearing score to manipulate us. Though I do always relish the burst of Nas in the kitchen/montage scene, reflecting Malik's change. The hero succeeds and the baddie crumples, which, after over two hours of anguish is just what the audience/me needs. The story, Audiard's understanding of what makes the perfect performance (I truly believe they are perfect) and the acute intimacy of the handheld shooting firmly cements A Prophet as my film to die for. 

Rebecca Callard

Rebecca Callard is an English actress based in London. Her credits include The Borrowers, Robin Hood, The Grand and Blackout with Christopher Eccleston.  Rebecca can be seen next year with Michael Smiley and Steven Graham in the film Orthodox (@Orthodox_film) and in Simon Stephen's (@StephenSimon) play Blindsided
You can follow Rebecca on Twitter here.

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