In one word: intense. But this does not even start to describe this jewel of a film. Imagine a coming of age tale, taking place in jail, amidst violence and harsh struggle to survive. It’s one of these rare films that combine raw material, that is anything but randomly placed on the screen. Malik, the film protagonist, is a character unexplained. All we see is a young person, barely a man, with a hinted history of petty crime, sent to jail. What’s interesting is that we don’t need to develop sympathy for Malik. The filmmaker does not try to make him appealing nor require our empathy. Malik serves, at least in my mind, a very different purpose: he is a looking glass through which we, the audience, get exposed to a world most of us never experienced before and, hopefully, never will, or are we? Though the brutal world in which the film takes place is foreign to most of us, it includes all the elements one will find everyday in our own surroundings. Corrupt administration, power-driven men of influence who will stop at nothing to get what they want, money, sex, religion, ethnic hatred, loyalty and betrayal. Be it Corporate America or a harsh French prison, the rules are frightenedly the same. Malik survives and even thrives because of one single quality he poses: adaptation. He is a fast learner, quick to adjust, and even faster to seize opportunities and turn them into his advantage. Ultimately he may represent the lowest level humans may reach, but as far as natural selection goes, he and his kind will roam the Earth. Is that the film’s prophecy?
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