I gotta plead complete amnesia about the first time I encountered the music of Talk Talk, specifically their atmospheric pop masterpiece Laughing Stock (1991). Now and then, one of the album’s six songs of aching end-times poignancy would resurface inside my head, ruffling through looted memories and then retreating back into the darkest places. The estranged beauty and pearly-gate melancholy rooted in Mark Hollis’ songwriting and singing on Laughing Stock have few parallels (at least in my own record collection) though this haunted music can certainly make for uneasy listening.
I was a bit surprised then to notice “Runeii” being used rather inconspicuously in Un prophète, French filmmaker Jacques Audiard‘s warmly praised prison drama about a jailed hoodlum Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) advancing through the criminal ranks to become a professional gangster while serving his sentence.
With its lead character being a young Muslim, many have tried to read the film in relation to how French society deals with the immigrant issue – although Audiard himself has apparently claimed that his film has nothing to do with his vision of society. Un prophète is most absorbing when detailing the moral decisions Malik has to make, as he attempts to survive prison life by utilizing his smarts and cunning as much as he taps into deep reservoirs of spiritual strength. And the finesse displayed by Audiard in his packaging of this compelling coming-of-age tale is evident too in his use of music, the careful synchronization of “Runeii” with the film’s mood of suspenseful introspection to properly convey Malik’s sturdy resilience. - keith.
mp3: talk talk – runeii