World Cinema Wednesday

You sort of know this one’s a classic about two thirds of the way through. I remember first seeing the trailer and being totally captivated, thinking I must check it out as soon as I have the chance. I did just that at The Sunshine in New York, one of my favorite theaters in Soho. Though it’s pace can be a little on the lumbering side at times, you know something pretty brilliant is burning slowly before your eyes. It also has one of my favorite scenes of brutality, and the build up to that moment alone is worth watching this one. The performances are brilliant also. There truly are some things that the French do better than most…

An impressionable and vulnerable Arabic man gets thrust into a hellish prison, and ironically discovers greater opportunities for success than he ever possessed outside of the bars, in this violent melodrama from French succès d’estime Jacques Audiard(The Beat That My Heart Skipped). Tahar Rahim stars as Malik El Djebena, a petty criminal incarcerated for six years. Once inside and subjected to all of the standard brutalities that most prisoners endure, he is quickly educated in the “ways” of the prison, an institution torn violently between gangs of Corsicans and Arabs. The head Corsican thug, César Luciani (Niels Arestrup), offers Malik an ultimatum: either he rubs out an Arab inmate named Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), or he himself dies. Not only does Malik succeed with the hit, he earns the begrudging respect of the other prisoners, and — after securing several days’ release for good behavior — uses off-time to forge a deeper and more multi-layered network of criminal ties than he ever dreamed possible. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

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About Nile Saulter

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