Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mob Movie: The Loyalty of "A Prophet"

Now many of you only drop by to read about VH1's Mob Wives series which I can appreciate. The ladies do a great job giving you information relevant to the show's cast and their lifestyles. If you don't know, these ladies are diggers. I have watched the show a few times. This may read like blasphemy but I really cannot get into it. It could be due to my missing a couple of episodes. Maybe I just can't relate to the women. Which is probably a good thing because I am 100% all man. I was asked to contribute to this blog strictly based on my encyclopedia type knowledge of pop culture, movies and music. My memory is serious business.  I can read; I can watch; I can listen whether books, movies, albums, newspapers,  magazines and remember all sorts of details.

I happened to be listening to the Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM.  He was reading an advertisement for a little movie called "A Prophet".  The ad said the movie was comparable to "The Godfather".  I hate when a movie is compared to a classic.  Most of the time, it will never stand a chance living up to the comparison. The advertisement mentioned it's Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film. It is a French movie with subtitles.  One day I was fooling around with my Netflix queue.  I came across "A Prophet".  So I said why not. At a minimum, it would be fun to see if the French can make a gangster movie. 

I've watched "A Prophet" twice now. Once for enjoyment and the second time for some of the themes that ran throughout. The thread through this movie is one we see with the Mob Wives; loyalty. Loyalty is near and dear to many.  It's everything for some.

A quick rundown of the movie, the movie's central character is a French Arab named Malik.  He is sentenced to 6 years in prison. He's in prison for fighting cops.  Malik is 19 years old with no family and no real identity.  All he wants to do is serve his time, and eventually move forward with his life. As in most prisons there are separate factions which run the prison. The factions are the Corsican mob and the Muslims. The Corsican mob boss in prison is Luciani. He is an older gentleman who is probably going to die in prison.  It appears the Corsican mob is the dominating faction in the prison.  While the Muslims seem very united.  We're not given a clear view of the Muslims beyond their loyalty.

Malik is jumped for his shoes in the prison courtyard. The Corsicans witness the incident.  They approach Malik with a job.  He is asked to kill a Muslim witness named Reyeb. Malik is conflicted.  He does not want to kill.  He does not want to kill a fellow Muslim. In the end, he has no choice.  The job completed; he earns the protection from the Corsicans.  Malik is looked at only as a dirty Arab. He does not get the respect from the mob. He is their bitch boy for lack of a better term.  He appears fiercely loyal.  Whatever is asked of him, he does.

Malik has visions of Reyeb in his cell. Many may interpret this as a haunting of his first murder.  I see this in a totally different way. Reyeb had been trying to find a friend in prison. Reyeb tried to get Malik to understand his Muslim heritage. The brotherhood which can be strong if they remain loyal to each other.

Luciani begins trusting Malik with bigger assignments.  Malik develops relationships outside of the mob.  As Luciani trusts grows, Malik begins identifying with his Muslim roots. He meets another Muslim who pushes Malik to education. The Corsicans' oppressive hand has no interest in Malik or any other Muslim's education.  They know the tide will turn with knowledge.  Malik appears closer to Luciani than the other Corsican soldiers.  He does not ask Luciani for anything.  He does not burden the boss.

The one thing that I loved about the movie was Malik's loyalty. He was loyal to whoever. Maybe he used them but it was never obvious.. He created a bond to the Muslims by giving money. Luciani trusted him enough because of his loyalty. Malik began handling big business. Malik was loyal to his friends who helped him along the way. He made money with a drug dealer. He supported Ryad because he showed him education.  The viewer watches Malik do bad things.  Yet most who watch will love this character.  Malik is fiercely loyal.  He just kept everything quiet and he made his way.  He raises to power.  He becomes stronger than the Corsicans.  He is respected.  Yet to the Corsicans after all the jobs and time spent with him, Malik is only a dirty Muslim.

I understand the comparison to the Godfather.  I don't know if "A Prophet" will ever be seen as a classic in the states.  It's a little seen movie.  It's a foreign film with subtitles.  I love the movie. I watched it last night again for this post. I saw things; I hadn't caught the first time around. It's a great mob or gangster movie. I know you read.  So grab your reading glasses and pop some corn.  "A Prophet" is the next best thing to having a French lover whisper sweet nothings in your ear.  Let me know your thoughts on the movie if you've seen it or after you watch it.  I'd also like your recommendations on some great movies.  I wonder what the ladies of Mob Wives would say about this movie.  Loyalty comes out of their mouths every Sunday @ 8PM/7PM central as if they get a buck everytime they say the word.


Chiara Soprano said...

Once again a riveting blog, Underboss. I've never heard of the movie, but I am intrigued by your blog. I will look into seeing it and get back to you.

Mob Mistress said...

First, I love this blog. I love this movie. It is definitely in my top 20 of all-time favorite movies. It most likely is in my top ten. However, I don't feel like thinking hard right now.

Malik was so sexy to me. Hmmph, Hmmph he could whisper sweet nothings in my ear in French or Arabic. I am a dirty old woman what can I type?

Okay, so I want to touch on this loyalty thing. I agree Malik was fiercely loyal. However, I think his loyalty was to himself and his survival. He was respectful to others. And he definitely scratched the back of those who were kind to him. He was quiet and unassuming, so many could build a rapport and eventually bond with him which led to loyalty. I loved that he was a watcher. I loved that he took mental notes.

Another aspect of the movie is his duality of two cultures. While to me it seemed like he embraced both. It seemed that throughout his life he had been an outcast because of it which left him vulnerable.

I don't know if it was loyalty to Lucianni. I think it was necessity for survival. Malik could've been loyal to the Corsicans had they shown him some respect. However, as his errands & jobs grew and more 'trust' was given; he was still treated with disrespect. I don't believe they ever trusted Malik. They trusted in his fear of them. They felt like, 'We got this dirty Muslim's life in the palm of our hands.' For Lucianni he was his favorite mutt. And as odd as this will read, I think Lucianni had love for Malik as if a nephew or younger cousin. However, he could not show it in front of the other Corsicans. Lucianni's had to remain loyal to his own kind. To do anything else would cause him to lose his power.

I could go on and on. But I really enjoyed your take on this Underboss.

The Underboss said...

If you have Netflix you can stream it. I do recommend it.

Chiara Soprano said...

Ah! Thank you I do have Netflix and will get on it very soon!