Cannes best films are not in competition

Cannes’ more artistically successful offerings have been anything but lighthearted affairs, beginning with French director Jacques Audiard’s brutally intense and often quite brilliant prison drama, A Prophet, which follows an illiterate French-Arab inmate during his six-year odyssey from new kid on the (cell) block to holy underworld kingpin of the title. Along the way, Malik (impressively played by newcomer Tahar Rahim) learns how to read not only books but people, too, much of that education coming at the hands of a merciless but fair-minded Corsican gang leader (the electrifying Niels Arestrup, who was the father in Audiard’s previous The Beat That My Heart Skipped), until the pupil overtakes the master, playing every one of Paris’ rival gangland factions to his own advantage.

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