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Critics reviews
A Prayer Before Dawn
This movie is a remarkable feat that requires a strong stomach to sit through. I was unaware, prior to seeing it, that it’s based on a true story, and the movie’s coda was that much more powerful for me as a result. But even knowing that going in, “A Prayer Before Dawn” will put you through the wringer and eventually make you glad you went.
August 10, 2018
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The film’s kinetic impact can be shattering. . . . This kind of film is too often called “bold” and “unflinching.” It’s true that in and out of the ring, Sauvaire’s camera registers every blow that lands on Moore’s head, limbs, back, and gut. His moviemaking aims to be “in your face,” but it rarely penetrates to your heart and mind.
August 09, 2018
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The definition of an immersive experience, “A Prayer Before Dawn” is a survival story whittled to sweat and sinews. The film’s “Midnight Express”-style abominations aren’t new; what’s different is its director’s impressionistic eye and instinctual connection to his subject’s tribulations. Mr. Sauvaire’s approach may not be for everyone, but his skill and audacity are invigorating — and, strangely, liberating.
August 09, 2018
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The film’s devotion to the hellish-ness of Klong Prem comes to feel smugly narrow. Compared to the rich and surprising emotional textures of, say, Steve Buscemi’s Animal Factory, A Prayer Before Dawn rates as only technically impressive.
August 07, 2018
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On screen, there’s no shortage of pummelling action in the ring, but director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire thankfully isn’t terribly interested in the obvious upfront exploitation angle. Instead, his film marshals the blood and sinew of Moore’s story in service of a spiritually infused journey away from rage and narcotics and towards discipline and self-acceptance.
July 19, 2018
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Unafraid of the appalling filth and violence of the film’s setting, director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire uses tight framing and a eye for the festering detail of the Thai prison that Yorkshire lad Billy ends up in. While it’s not for the faint-hearted – it features prison rape, sewed-on ears and heroin hidden in all the expected body cavities – it’s a deeply intelligent film about the pitfalls of violent masculinity.
October 27, 2017
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Only when Billy devotes himself fully to perfecting his sporting prowess as a boxer and gives up drugs at last after several relapses does his life start to improve. It’s a classic boxing movie trajectory, but Sauvaire gets extra brownie points for the austere way he tells this oft-told story. Cole’s searing intensity and total commitment to the physical demands of the role is integral to the film’s effectiveness.
May 19, 2017
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