A Prayer Be­fore Dawn

De­scent into the thai pe­nal sys­tem

Real Crime - - Home Invasion - An­ton Bi­tel

Re­leased Out Now

Direc­tor Jean- Stéphane Sau­vaire Distributor Al­ti­tude Films

Prayer Be­fore Dawn tells the real- life story of Billy

Moore, a muay thai boxer who was ar­rested in Thai­land on charges of han­dling stolen goods and firearms, and sen­tenced to three years in Chi­ang Mia prison.

Here, he is alien­ated both cul­tur­ally and lin­guis­ti­cally, in over­crowded con­di­tions where rape, sui­cide and mur­der are com­mon­place. After degra­da­tion and de­spair, he grows de­ter­mined not to go down without a fight, find­ing new pur­pose in the prison’s box­ing team.

All this has been adapted from Moore’s 2012 mem­oir A Prayer Be­fore Dawn: A Night­mare In Thai­land , with Moore him­self serv­ing as a con­sul­tant for Jonathan Hirschbein and Nick Sal­trese’s screen­play. Authen­tic­ity of a dif­fer­ent kind comes from the cast­ing of non- pro­fes­sional Thai ac­tors ( apart from Only God For­gives’ Vithaya Pan­sringarm as the war­den), gen­uine ex- pris­on­ers and box­ing cham­pi­ons whose own ex­pe­ri­ences in­formed the script. And the film­mak­ers were given per­mis­sion to shoot in one of Thai­land’s old­est pris­ons, bring­ing a lived- in at­mos­phere to ev­ery­thing on screen.

Direc­tor Jean- Stéphane Sau­vaire proved his cre­den­tials as a mas­ter of con­fronting re­al­ism with his de­but fea­ture, Johnny Mad Dog ( 2008), which tracked a boy’s bru­tal ini­ti­a­tion into a unit of child sol­diers. Here, cin­e­matog­ra­pher David Un­garo’s cam­era prac­ti­cally hugs Moore in his de­scent into the pe­nal sys­tem: from his pan­icky ar­rest and fear in a cell of tat­tooed ‘ samu­rais’, to his ten­der re­la­tion­ship with ‘ la­dy­boy’ Fame ( Porn­chanok Mabklang), and box­ing train­ing.

Joe Cole gives a highly com­mit­ted phys­i­cal per­for­mance as Moore, whose sur­vival­ist progress is writ­ten on the body in bruises, scars and tat­toos. This makes for a knock­out film.

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