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A Prayer Before Dawn

“Thai prison, like all prisons, reveals the dark side of a person’s soul”

[Billy Moore]

Fine source material about the life of Billy Moore and his incarceration inside one of Thailand’s most notorious prisons as he survives the elements to earn his freedom. Tethered to drugs and the adrenaline of the violence, Joe Cole plays a fitting role about a man on the brink of capsizing. This is a raw and harrowing film about another world likely unseen by the general American audience. The fighting sequences are bland, almost amateurish at times, but the Oz-like existence inside these prisons offers a fascinating glimpse into the system where human rights or the idea of cruel & unusual punishment seems foreign.

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire weaves together a fine film certainly nothing to be compared to with the likes of McQueen’s Hunger or Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet. And Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) is certainly no Jack O’Connell (Starred Up), but he does do a fine job in a well-chosen script.

There was a lot more to say about the life of Moore, which was largely ignored. This was perhaps a wasted opportunity to make a complete film instead of showcasing only a small window into an interesting personality and the wider context of Thai politics and criminal reform.

RATING: C+

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