For fans of Jacques Audiard’s (Rust and Bone) 2009 prison drama, Un prophète, news that it’s the next foreign feature in line for an English language remake might not be all that welcome. After something has been done well once, people tend to cringe a bit at the idea of it being attempted again, and possibly not as well. For people who don’t generally watch foreign films, be it because of some ingrained nationalism, or a dislike of dealing with subtitles, or whatever, news of Un Prophète getting an English-language remake should be seen as a cause for celebration though, because it was one of the very best crime films made in the last five years, and everyone should get a chance to see what it has to offer.
Why are we even discussing this matter? Because, according to The Wrap, the film is indeed now planned to be given an English-language remake, by Fast & Furious producers Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe.
So, for the uninitiated, what was this film that got released in US theaters as A Prophet? It was one of those rise and fall crime dramas, like Goodfellas, but set in the world of a prison. It was an incredible acting showcase that featured great performances from both newcomer Tahar Rahim as well as veteran Niels Arestrup. It was gritty, brutal, and violent, but at the same time it had some unexpected artistic flourishes and metaphysical whatsits. When all is said and done, does that add up to a movie that’s going to play to American audiences?
Moritz certainly thinks so, as he said of the project, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to make an English-language version of the film and I am grateful to have the trust of Jacques Audiard and his producers, as well as the writers Thomas Bidegain, Nicolas Peufaillit, and Abdel Raouf Dafri.” Sony’s Hannah Minghella, for her part, added, “Obviously, we love working with Neal and he has a great track record with this kind of film – we’re confident that our film will excite audiences in the same way that the original material did.”
The idea that Audiard and his writers seem to be on board with the approach the Fast & Furious team is taking is a slight comfort. Of course, that’s the sort of lip service that these announcements to the press always include regarding remakes, so who can really tell how earnest their support actually is? Regardless, a new version of A Prophet could certainly make for a strong film in the hands of the right director, and the differences between the cultures of American prisons and French prisons could end up putting some interesting new wrinkles into the story, so hopefully all of this will result in an awesome new crime film we all get to watch sometime soon. And, at the very least, this news works as a reminder that we should probably all go back and watch the original again anyway. It really was damn good.