Condemned to six years in prison, Malik El Djebena, part Arab, part Corsican, cannot read or write. Arriving at the jail entirely alone, he appears younger and more fragile than the other convicts. He is 19 years old. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang currently ruling the prison, he is given a number of “missions” to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader’s confidence.
Again on my Oscar binge I decided to check out one of the entries in the Best Foreign Language Film category, sadly it got beaten by ‘El Secreto de Sus Ojos’ but still it was nominated so must be worth a watch.
It’s a good film, somehow it manages to be both quite slow and very intense at the same time. The character develop is superb, filming is kept simple and the Tahar Rahim a relatively unknown actor is excellent as Malik.
The film revolves around one person in the most part and a few others on the periphery, it’s recurring theme is education – mostly about business. Yes indeed underground or criminal business, but still business at the end of the day.
This is a movie I would most definitely classify as ‘heavy’ so make sure you are in the right mood to watch it as it’s very engaging. This is definitely not a Hollywood style movie but it will draw you in and wring you out, it’s somewhat of a masterpiece of movie making.
There has been a batch of films like this lately coming out of France, gritty and dull with extreme violence to make things more interesting – they have been labelled as “New French Extremity”. This movie follows that genre, but does it right and makes this film a compelling work.
If you want to keep up with what is going on you’ll have to be either fluent in French, Corsican and Arabic or be a fast reader of subtitles.
It’s definitely worth a watch, but it’s heavy going so be prepared. I give it a toothbrush sharpening 8.5/10.