Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 30
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 30
  3. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Why do we care? Because never before have the steps to thugdom, as depressing as that destination may be, been so rigorously detailed, neither romanticized nor negated. Don’t miss.
  2. There's also no romanticizing on the part of the director, who proceeds with calm, unshowy attentiveness (even in the midst of scenes of violence), creating a stunning portrait of an innately smart survivor for whom prison turns out to be a twisted opportunity for self-definition.
  3. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Uncompromising in its style, story and characterizations.
  4. 100
    To borrow a marketing phrase from another, very different film, A Prophet really is the movie that reminds you why you love the movies. Especially movies like this one.
  5. One of those rare films in which the moral stakes are as insistent and thought through as the aesthetic choices.
  6. 100
    It's a highly original film made in a familiar context, and an exciting moviegoing experience you shouldn't miss.
  7. 100
    The best performance in the film is by Arestrup as Cesar. You may remember him from Audiard's "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" (2005), where he played a seedy but confident father who psychically overshadows his son.
  8. Reviewed by: James Adams
    One caveat: At the risk of sounding sexist, let me say A Prophet is an unreservedly male film. Female characters are few and far between, and when they do appear, they pretty much fall into either one of two categories – les mamans ou les putains.
  9. If Malik doesn't remind you of Al Pacino's Michael Corleone on his journey from innocence to corruption in "The Godfather" saga, well . . . he should. A Prophet is similarly, startlingly momentous.
  10. A Prophet is the kind of film that makes you remember why going to the movies can be a thrilling experience.
  11. Essential viewing for art-film buffs and crime-flick fans, but also for anyone who's looking for a great story, terrific acting and masterful filmmaking.
  12. More than anything else, however, director Jacques Audiard's gritty, grab-you-by-the-shirtfront film is a mob movie -- a really, really good mob movie. Think "GoodFellas," but with Gauloises and accent aigu instead of plates of spaghetti and accent Pesci.
  13. 91
    A Prophet has been compared to American TV series like "Oz" for its episodic plot and large cast, but it’s more like a Gallic "Goodfellas": thoroughly absorbing, exciting, even poetic. It’s a full evening’s entertainment.
  14. 91
    Long and sometimes grueling, but it never feels indulgent or excessive. In order to be subtle about the horrifying transformation he records, Audiard needs to let it unfold slowly, so that only when we reach the end can we see Malik as a new man who has come unimaginably -- and terribly -- far.
  15. A Prophet pushes its protagonist into circumstances he did not choose but in which he watches and learns and kills and eventually becomes all he can be, albeit criminally. Certainly Muslims living in France have embraced the movie and Malik, played by Rahim
  16. 88
    It’s imperfect, but it’s daring, bold, and from a director who isn’t scared of anything.
  17. 88
    Most prison movies are about escape or survival. A Prophet (Un Prophete) is about the creation of a consciousness. This one, too, could have been called “An Education.”
  18. 88
    Audiard delivers on and exceeds the promise he evinced in that earlier film, drawing viewers into the densely layered, ruthless ecology of a French prison and, against all odds, making them not mind staying there awhile.
  19. 88
    Strip away the French and Arabic subtitles, the French-prison setting and the Muslim-messianic title, and A Prophet, opening Friday at The Enzian, would still be the grittiest prison thriller in years.
  20. Reviewed by: Andrew Male
    A modern French crime epic where the smudges and crossings out do not diminish the passages of great dreamlike power.
  21. Reviewed by: Peter Brunette
    What's most immediately remarkable about the film is the raw intensity of its hyper-realistic encounters, hugely enhanced by the superb acting of newcomer Rahim.
  22. Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
    Whether audiences have the stomach for 150 minutes behind bars remains debatable, but there is no denying the persuasive power of a film that takes no prisoners and pulls no punches.
  23. Rahim and Arestrup are both so outstanding that if this were an English-language film, they'd probably be nominated for Oscars, too.
  24. 80
    Some have compared this French crime drama to "The Godfather," and though that may be a common critical touchstone, writer-director Jacques Audiard manages to replicate its most elusive element, not the dark comedy or the operatic bloodletting but the incremental corruption of a decent man into a willful, coldhearted killer.
  25. If his two previous films suggested a director dipping a few toes in dark waters, Un Prophete marks the moment when Audiard took the plunge.
  26. 70
    Jacques Audiard’s film, which lasts two and a half hours, maintains an unflagging urgency, stalling only when the double-dealing grows too dense.
  27. Rahim is an exciting, unpredictable presence, and Arestrup’s César has a stature that’s nearly Shakespearean.
  28. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Sold to the global arthouse market as the "French Scorsese," Audiard does know his genre. A Prophet, the director has said, is the "anti-Scarface."
  29. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A compelling piece of naturalistic filmmaking, claustrophobic and thought-provoking.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 157 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Nov 23, 2010
    What is really great about this movie, is the simplicity of it. An Arabian man who is sentenced to six years in prison soon is confronted by aWhat is really great about this movie, is the simplicity of it. An Arabian man who is sentenced to six years in prison soon is confronted by a Corsican gang who gives him several tasks to do, soon becoming a ruthless gang member, and he can't even read or write.There is this sense of immense greatness toward Malik who is only 19 years old and seems like the only nice guy who won't shoot an inmate. And the Corsican gang seems to be his only refuge, even if he doesn't like it. The plot is simply told, not through verbal communication, but in several instances where the filmakers step you outside the movie and try to tell you, "This is Malik now." He soon becomes productive, and ruthless. He slowly rebuilds his life. A perfect crime drama that has things anybody could ask for in one. Full Review »
  2. Sep 7, 2010
    Fantastic gritty, realistic depiction of life inside a French prison from start to finish.

    I could really only identify a couple of small
    Fantastic gritty, realistic depiction of life inside a French prison from start to finish.

    I could really only identify a couple of small aspects were improvement was possible. The first of these was in the english subtitles (not really even a part of the film itself)- they are not always a great translation of the actual dialogue. The second is in the development of the central protagonists relationship and involvement with the Muslim within and outside the jail walls, this could have been given additional clarity.

    However, as a cinema this film works all almost every level, effectively dragging us into Malik's world grim and realistic world.

    Don't miss it.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 8, 2013
    Indeed, crime pays in "A Prophet,” the most widely valued French underworld thriller in decades, recognized as one of the best-developed crimeIndeed, crime pays in "A Prophet,” the most widely valued French underworld thriller in decades, recognized as one of the best-developed crime dramas, and one of the most compelling crime figures in recent cinema history. “A Prophet” is the kind of film that makes you remember why going to the movies can be a thrilling experience.

    The film tells the story of how a 19-year-old Arab youth with no family or relatives who enters a French prison as a scared, illiterate young man and emerges six years later as the area’s indisputable mob kingpin. It’s a hard-won journey and a metamorphosis of dubious merit that creates a tone that is both inspirational and terrifying. "A Prophet" follows the life of Malik (Tahar Rahim), a young Frenchman of Arab descent, who enters prison as an outsider and is shaped into an adult criminal from the inside. He is a blank slate who has been disposed of by proper society, yet able to rise within the prison hierarchy due to his innate intelligence and sheer will to survive. The prison is under the control of, in essence, by a Corsican gang of inmates headed by César Luciani (Niels Arestrup), whose word is law. César sees everything but expresses little.

    Shortly after his arrival, Malik is ordered by César to murder of another prisoner, an action that grants him protection. The murder sequence is absolutely gripping from his preparation for the act, to how Malik finally pulls it off. His reaction to this brutal initiation is stunningly depicted as it forever haunts Malik. In the years the to come, Malik transforms before our very eyes. Malik's rise to power is chronicled in a logical and believable manner. His ascension through the ranks comes primarily from careful observation and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. He also manipulates; when he learns that César thinks all Arabs are stupid, he uses the revelation to his advantage.

    Director Jacques Audiard effortlessly constructs a foreboding landscape with complicated rules, and developing characters that are compelling and empathetic, even as they commit heinous acts. Rahim perfectly telegraphs his maturation from petty thief to major player in a brilliant performance that relies much less on words, than the confidence he exudes in his actions. He doesn't need to tell us that he is taking charge of the prison, or surpassing Cesar, we just watch it happen. The film's brutal, realistic violence is not for the faint for heart, but fans of raw, gripping cinema shouldn't be put off; "A Prophet" demands to be seen.

    “A Prophet” was a 2010 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, and winner of the 2010 London Film Critics Award for Best Picture of the Year. The film won a total of nine César Awards in 2010 (the French equivalent of the Oscar), including best actor (Rahim), best director, and best picture.
    Full Review »