Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

DVD: A Prophet (18)

Petty criminal Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) enters prison as a blank canvas – he has little education, no family, no friends and no enemies – and apart from one clue ("what do you do besides attacking cops?") it's not clear why he's been given a six-year sentence.

The 19-year-old is soon greeted with a brutal mugging for his trainers before being targeted by the feared top dog, Cesar Luciana (Niels Arestrup), of the Corsican mafia who rules the prison. Cesar orders Malik – "If you don't kill him, I kill you" – to bump off an Arab inmate, Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), who is due to testify against him. Malik has no choice. Prison will make him a career criminal, and a depressingly successful one. His horrific assassination of Reyeb, with a razor blade, gains him "servant" status for the Corsicans and he gradually gains Cesar's confidence. He also learns to read and write, teaches himself Corsican and builds his own drug-selling power base.

Jacques Audiard's Cannes Grand Prix winner captures the look, the stench, the squalor and the violence of prison life – no loveable Norman Stanley Fletcher (Porridge) rogues here, just beatings in the showers and ethnic hatred in the courtyard. Rahim is compelling as Malik, but we could have done with a tad more background information about him. Nevertheless, this epic and provocative gangster drama never flags and the superb Arestrup makes for a suitably vicious Mob boss.

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Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Aries:

You will have to defer to others, which makes you anxious. There's never any problem when you're in control. You know how to act quickly and decisively. When others are at the helm, progress grinds to a halt. People deliberate endlessly over simple matters. Instead of putting pressure on the person in charge, make a strategic retreat. If you act like you don't care about the outcome of a situation, they won't be paralysed with uncertainty. You have a tendency to make people nervous.More