Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-EiffelTower

The Eiffel Tower seen from a rooftop in Montparnasse on a smoggy day. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Women’s March on Paris
> The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, women will march in cities around the world. Starts at the Parvis des Droits Humains, Trocadero, at 2pm, crosses the Pont d’Iéna and ends at the Mur pour la Paix at 4:30pm.

Behind closed doors
> Book now to visit places in Paris that are normally closed during Paris Face Cachée, including a lab trying to find cures for genetic diseases, located in a glass building with a panoramic roof terrace. Various venues, Paris and suburbs, Jan. 27-29.

Book signing
> Irish author Donal Ryan signs copies of his latest book, The Thing About December. Irish Cultural Center, Paris, Jan. 19.

Late-Night Magritte
> The Magritte exhibition at the Centre Pompidou will stay open until 10pm from Jan. 19 through the last day, Jan. 23.

Drinkathon
> Paris Cocktail Week offers master classes, special restaurant menus with cocktail/food pairings and other festivities. Various venues, Paris, Jan. 21-28.

Young European photographers
> The Festival Circulation(s) features emerging photographers. Centquatre, Paris, Jan. 21-March 5.

Picasso at the airport
> The exhibition "Picasso Plein Soleil" presents works made by the master while living on the Côte d’Azur. Espace Musées, Charles-de-Gaulle Airport 2E, Jan. 21-June 15.

Cheap cinema
> During the Festival Cinéma Télérama, you can see a selection of last year’s best films for only €3.50 each with the purchase of Télérama magazine (Jan. 11 and 18 issues). Various cinemas, Jan. 18-24.

Free subtitled French films
> My French Film Festival offers frees streaming of French movies. Through Feb. 13.

Frank Capra Retrospective
> The great American director in the spotlight. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 27.

Sex, Lies and Corruption
> The Hollywood Décadent festival features such films as Joseph Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor, Valley of the Dolls, and Vincente Minnelli’s Nina. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Jan. 25.

Chinese New Wave
> Nouvelles Voix du Cinéma Chinois screens films by a new generation of directors beginning around the turn of the 21st-century. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 20.

Winter sales
> Retail sales all over France: through Feb. 21.

Ice-Skating Rinks
> Where to ice skate in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais.

English plays in French
> Two plays by Harold Pinter, Ashes to Ashes and L’Amant, directed by Mitch Hooper, are onstage at the Essaïon through Jan. 24, 2017.

 

Film - Drama

 

Un Prophète

Un Prophète, Jacques Audiard

Newcomer Tahir Rahim is utterly believable as a prisoner named Malik.

For some reason, I can happily sit through six hours of a Wagner opera, but in the cinema, anything over 90 minutes tends to become unbearable. It takes something special to make me want to go to a film that lasts over two-and-a-half hours.

Jacques Audiard’s Un Prophète, however, comes with almost universal plaudits. It was strongly tipped to win the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival, and, although in the end it was pipped to the post by Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, it still won the Grand Prix (in effect, the runner’s-up award).

The movie concerns the six years spent in prison by a young Arab man named Malik (played by newcomer Tahar Rahim). This illiterate character starts out as a blank canvas, seeming to have no past or connections, no beliefs or opinions. But he very soon comes into contact with and remains answerable to a terrifying Corsican crime lord called César (played by Niels Arestrup, who was also in Audiard’s previous film, the highly regarded The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and is forced to murder another prisoner who is about to be released and represents a danger to César’s outside criminal interests. As the film progresses, Malik (clearly haunted by the murder he has committed) begins to educate himself and gradually rediscovers his origins and identity.

Audiard’s direction shows such confidence and poise that very quickly one becomes gripped by his muscular depiction of prison life (the advisors and extras on the film were themselves former prisoners). Indeed, when Malik is allowed to leave prison for a day, it is difficult not to exult in his sense of liberation.

My major quibble with the film is the way, as the film’s title suggests, the central character becomes a figure of almost religious significance. We are made to empathize with him even though he is actively involved in the most violent attacks and murders (the film’s gore score is very high).

The movie is worth seeing for Tahar Rahim’s performance alone. He is rarely off the screen and at all times is utterly believable, an extraordinary achievement for a newcomer. Surely we will see a lot more of him in future films.

Nick Hammond

More film reviews.

Reader Reaction
Click here to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).

© 2009 Paris Update