Director: Jacques Audiard
Year Released: 2009
A young Arab (Tahir Rahim) is thrown in jail and has to fend for himself, eventually being taken under the "protective arm" of the Corsican Mafia (led by the ominous Niels Arestrup) who give him orders to kill a fellow prisoner and run other dangerous errands for them. The prison movie genre, I've always found, is a potent one, as it shows how people cope with regret, a lack of freedom and a need to develop survival skills, and this is a solid entry - though a bit drawn out and vague in its dealings with racial identity (he's more a 'profiteer' than a 'prophet'), the performances and tense atmosphere do plenty to overcome such flaws. So much of this hinges on the brutal Father-Son relationship with Rahim and Arestrup, and both work marvelously together: in this Oedipal battle (the Son, at one point, is almost blinded by Father with a spoon), Dad is eventually stripped of his lackeys and power, though the Son is forever warped by the conflict.