A Prophet

There’s little to criticize in Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which easily competes with other recent prison dramas like McQueen’s Hunger and Refn’s Bronson. Each of these films turned heads, each is distinct from the other two, and each is unforgettable in its own way. But I was more inspired to comment about Hunger and Bronson, which brought new pitch to their genre even when they were homaging other films. A Prophet, conversely, leaves me dumb. It could be that Audiard has said everything that needs to be said about his movie within the text itself. Perhaps this is the problem with the supposed Perfect Film: there’s nothing much to add, in a liminal sense, to the product. A Prophet is a well-made movie with no discernable flaws. There are no problems to write about here, but no eurekas either. I’m not suggesting that A Prophet is a mediocre film; it’s not. It’s masterful and engaging and it makes us eager to see what Audiard will do next—more so than the routine Read My Lips ever did. Its (anti)hero is memorable and its situations believably tactile. It strikes us immediately as Something Meaningful because Audiard plays all the right sorts of cards and aims delightfully high. But it’s hindered in spots by its stale building blocks, which obstructed my view of its strengths.

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