Joe Cole is sensational as British Muay Thai fighter Billy Moore in Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s visceral adaptation of his tale of survival in Thailand’s Klong Prem prison.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
“At once exhausting and astonishing, this no-holds-barred adaptation of British junkie-turned-pugilist Billy Moore’s Thai prison memoir is a big, bleeding feat of extreme cinema, given elevating human dimension by rising star Joe Cole’s ferociously physical lead performance… A Prayer Before Dawn appropriately premiered at Cannes as a midnight screening – the right slot for a film that mixes down-and-dirty fight-night thrills with a kind of heightened sensory experimentalism, hypnotically fixated with bodies and motion. (It’s certainly not every film that calls to mind, by turns, such disparate reference points as Midnight Express, Only God Forgives and Jean-Claude Van Damme in Kickboxer.)
An international bestseller in 2014, Moore’s A Prayer Before Dawn: A Nightmare in Thailand is the kind of redemptive misery memoir that could easily have invited more lurid or mawkish mainstream film treatment. Moore (who appears briefly on screen as his own father) should be glad his book landed in the hands of Sauvaire, [a] filmmaker with a visceral understanding of bodily strain and its effect on the psyche.” — Guy Lodge, Variety