I am not a fan of prison films (unless there is loads of homo erotic tension a la 'Oz'). The whole idea of it scares and annoys me. Crimes get committed inside by inmates which are even worse for what they are sentenced for.
Such is the case in Jacques Audiards' hypnotic and socially conscious film.
Malik is sentenced to 6 years for attacking a cop. He is only 19 years old and is relatively naive when it comes to surviving in the prison system. He is confrontational, angry and protective but when the local don comes to him with a proposition that he will have to accept in order to survive, he beings his slippery slope into a criminal world he may have not entered into.
The film is tough to watch, and extremely suspenseful and helmer Audiard keeps the tension going all the while making some extremely well thought out social observations about racism, class and what makes a criminal.
The film is carried my new comer Tahar Rahmin like an old pro. His spiral into becoming a criminal mastermind is riveting to watch and Rahmin manages to inflect such subtle emotions that you never forget the kid he still is. Even while the film drags a little in places he is front and centre capturing your attention throughout.
Probably not a film I will watch again, but definitely one I will never forget.
Grade - B+