Calling this “The Arab Scarface” is a little misleading, since this movie’s form is, for the most part, reserved. What this is is a striking character study and expose of the (French) prison system.
An Arab street kid enters prison with nothing, exits as a new crime boss, having dethroned his Corsican father figure.
That’s the plot – and if it seems simple, fine. There’s a lot more room between the major beats that way for usually unexplored avenues of psychological exploration. Even if the best gag (a ghost blowing cigarette smoke from a slit throat) is taken from Beetlejuice.