A Prayer Before Dawn (2017)

JEAN-STEPHANE SAUVAIRE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.  ////USA, 2017.  , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Billy Moore’s memoir about his years surviving in a Thai prison is adapted to the screen with powerful results.  Moore () is living in Bangkok and making cash as a Muay Thai prizefighter before the authorities break into his home and arrest him on a drug charge.  Once behind bars, he goes from one viper’s nest to the next, struggling to make his way through the inmates’ bartering system while becoming even more dependent on the heroin that is easily available.  When the opportunity comes to put his skills in the ring to the test, it provides him with a shot at getting out of the worst existence that the jail has to offer and maybe even his salvation.  While it has little that is new to offer, plotwise, than a million other jail films you have ever seen, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s drama is memorable for its brutal atmosphere, the energetic direction emphasizing a non-stop soundtrack of aggravating noise that recreates the feeling of being trapped in a place that is a relentless assault on the senses.  Cole is excellent in the lead, fearless about the incredible physical requirements of the role, while Sauvaire corrects the errors of Midnight Express by presenting his hero’s situation honestly without demonizing another culture to do it.  That’s the real Moore who appears as Cole’s father in the film’s conclusion.

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