Fellow Movie Lovers
Defined by Webster as “a religious leader regarded as, or claiming to be, divinely inspired or one who predicts the future”. We recognize from the first scene who is the Prophet in training; another An Education.
Living in a city that receives many films after they have been previewed in New York or Los Angeles (highly unfair in my pejorative estimation); before arriving at our humble shores, try as we may, we cannot escape the prophetic, gargantuan hymns of praise. A Prophet was heralded by film critic Peter Travers, Rolling Stone as “A knockout of a thriller. A Triumph of the highest order! A new crime classic.” Or Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly, “Grade :A ! Riveting! A Stunning Saga!” Or KennethTunan of The Los Angles Times, “The Movie that reminds you of why you like the movies. Especially movies like this one!” Honored by the Academy in the best of the foreign film category; it was a slim year.
These words of praise kept resounding in my consciousness for the longest two and one half hours of theatre captivity since Avatar. And usually the longer the movie or novel the more satiated I am. So why wasn’t I swept into this dark, brutal world of prison politics?
There was little doubt as to where the process or plot was heading and the protagonist, Malik (realistically portrayed by Tahar Rahim) grows over a three year time frame from a naïve petty criminal to the ultimate professional. Trained by the king of convicts Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup gives a brilliant performance); a tyrant demanding and receiving supreme loyalty: a savior and protector for the disciple, Malik.
The theme is universal, most prisons have a hierarchy; a caste system; religion, ethnicity, race, and always the ubitiquous mantra, the survival of the fittest.
It was not lost on the audience that Malik after forty days and nights in solitary confinement emerges, like Christ from the desert, a transformed man.
Giving in to the supreme no-no for movie audiences; the overwhelming lure of my Blackberry (even spam was welcome) kept me nailed to my seat! But absolution was mine and I was rewarded with my favorite song, Mack the Knife, while viewing the credits; a song popularized by Bobby Darin but written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for the 1929 The Threepenny Opera, featuring Mackheath, a nefarious German criminal.
A graceful conclusion to a crucifying filmatic experience.
Countdown ………Eight Hours To See Who Wins the Peneflix Contest. My biggest fear is that I made this far too easy, resulting in bankruptcy, and my future role as the ticket seller in the theatre of my choice.