I went to see Un prophète today, which is, as you can see below, un film de Jacques Audiard. Though obviously I saw the subtitled version.
It’s a gangster/prison drama about a young French Arab, played by Tahar Rahim, who arrives in prison at the start of the film and is immediately approached by a Corsican gang who threaten him and offer him protection in return for killing someone.
The film starts with Malik arriving in prison — we learn almost nothing of his life beforehand — and ends when he leaves, so it’s set in a very grey, constrained, claustrophobic world, and visually it’s mainly a kind of gritty realism. It’s rather Wire-esque, both in that visual style and in the attention to the procedural and mechanical details of prison life.
I thought it was a very good film. It works as a gangster movie — perhaps slightly slower-paced than you might expect from most American movies in the same genre, but none the worse for that. But it’s a gangster movie with an underlying serious-mindedness and darkness, and with other themes running through it, most obviously the French muslim immigrant experience, that give it a bit of heft. And it has a very good, understated central performance by Tahar Rahim.