France's Oscar-nominated A Prophet charts a mobster's rise
Throughout his pupil's progress, Audiard demonstrates a way with Henri Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment, and when Malik finally breaks with his Falstaffian, castrating patriarch, it makes your heart skip a beat in a move akin to the title of the director's last film. It's like several other exquisitely imperishable scenes in A Prophet: a sequence that aims for the chaotic, sensuous intercourse of a close-range shoot-out; the image of a sacrificial deer arcing through the air; the sight of Malik, awkward in a business suit, taking his first plane ride; a vision of a fragile rainbow coalition of crime. This Eurozone/Obama-age prophet is all about the profit — Malik is a biracial, border-crossing player who has translated his survival skills into power-grabbing opportunity — but here he's imbued with grace, even while gaming for ill-gotten gain.
A PROPHET opens Fri/5 in Bay Area theaters.