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Drama

A prayer before dawn (2017)

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I don’t know
what you’re fucking saying,
I don’t understand.

What an impressive film. You won’t get a feeling of excitement or relaxation after watching it. It’ll rather leave a bad taste in your mouth. It was as if the smell of blood, rancid food, vomit, and sweat has nestled itself in my nostrils. I had this annoying, uncomfortable feeling afterward. I’m convinced there are other places in this world where you don’t want to end up and which aren’t good for your health, both physically and psychologically. But the Thai prison Klong Prem seems to me the most damned and inhumane place on our planet. A place where you stop being a person and where you try to survive in any way you can. I’m strongly in favor of setting up an exchange program for prisoners worldwide. In such a way that prisoners from wherever, get the chance to taste the prison climate of these regions. I’m sure many will start realizing how privileged their treatment is in this part of the world. Who knows, maybe even a few will come to their senses.

 

Is there a translator in the house?

A prayer before dawn” feels like a documentary. It’s as if the camera is filming over the shoulders of Billy Moore (Joe Cole) all the time, a Brit who’s a boxer in Thailand and is being arrested for selling drugs. The nightmare in which he’s imprisoned for three years and the daily struggle in this hell hole is the basis for his book that he publishes later on. It’s titled “A prayer before dawn: A nightmare in Thailand“. Don’t expect long dialogues. Or you are someone who understands Thai quite well. That alone would drive me crazy already. The endless whining and shouting of those tattooed, golden-toothed Thai criminals. You have no idea what they are talking about. You can only guess whether they ask a very ordinary question or threat you.

Brutal, intense and realistic.

The number of films that take place in prisons is almost infinite. But there are none so realistic and painful to behold as “A prayer before dawn“. Even “Brawl in Cell Block 99” doesn’t seem to be so brutal and intense, despite the extremely violent images. Why? Because “Brawl in Cell Block 99” is a fictional story. The story about Billy Moore shows an unambiguous, unvarnished picture of his struggle for survival and his perseverance to maintain himself in this barbaric environment. A story about how an individual has to push his limits both physically and psychically. A black and white portrait with a thin dividing line between life and death. One moment you see how Billy almost kills a fellow prisoner at the request of a corrupt guard. The next moment you see a tender moment between him and the transvestite Fame (Pornchanok Mabklang). A moment to catch your breath after all the brutal violence.

Top notch acting. Even from those ex-prisoners.

The acting of Joe Cole is extremely convincing. You can simply feel his fury, despair, and fear. Cole’s acting is purely en simply physical as there is practically no dialogue to be heard. A shrill and threatening “Fuck off” is the main thing that comes over his lips. You are witnessing how the accumulated tension and frustration suddenly flares up during confrontations and his Thai boxing. And at the same time, you see Cole fighting against his addiction. The Thai inmates are all amateurs in the field of acting but apparently, a large number of these side characters actually have spent time behind bars. Maybe that’s why it all feels so real.

Just go watch this top-notch movie.

No, “A prayer before dawn” is no fun to watch and will certainly still haunt you the next days after. If you expect a detailed story, you will certainly be disappointed afterward. The narrative is reasonably straightforward and concise. It’s nothing more than a report of Billy’s stay in this hellish place on earth and his constant fight to get out of it unscathed. But, as I said, this film will certainly stay with you. It’s, as it were, beaten into you.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Crime

Apple TV + | Cherry | Official Trailer

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

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Genre:

Crime, Drama

Release Date:

February 26, 2021

Director:

Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Cast:

Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Gandolfini

Plot Summary:

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

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Drama

Netflix | Malcolm & Marie

When filmmaker Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya), return home from a movie premiere and await his film’s critical response, the evening takes a turn as revelations about their relationship surface, testing the couple’s love.

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Genre:

Drama, Romance

Release Date:

February 5, 2021

Director:

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Cast:

Zendaya, John David Washington

Plot Summary:

A filmmaker returns home with his girlfriend following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love.

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Drama

REVIEW: Nomadland

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Nomadland is the third feature film from Chloé Zhao, who previously wrote, directed and produced Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017) and she’s back with another great film. After winning the top award at both Venice and Toronto Film Festivals the film looks set to take home a good number of awards over the coming months including at the Oscars. Nomadland is a fictionalised version of the 2017 book Nomadland: Surviving American in the Twenty-First Century written by Jessica Bruder and it follows Fern, played remarkably by Frances McDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards), a woman who embarks on a journey across the American West after losing everything in the Great Recession.

Nomadland is one of those films where in terms of plot and story, not a lot actually happens throughout its runtime. And in a film like this where you’re not necessarily being immediately captivated and gripped by the narrative, it can be very easy to get bored and to lose interest in the film. But that’s not the case with Nomadland at all. Zhao takes the viewer along the journey with Fern and for every minute of this film and for every step that Fern takes we feel like we are there with her and the film manages to take you on this journey so well. The film progresses and you don’t know where it’s going to take you next and yet it doesn’t matter in the slightest. It places the viewer in a position where you feel almost like a nomad yoursef, just slowly drifting across the country with Fern. The film glides along, moving from all the various characters that she meets and as we experience these characters, mere moments later they’re gone as we’ve moved onto something else and someone else.

Zhao has continued to prove her talent as both a writer and a director as with Nomadland she’s created a really powerful film that is completely driven by the central character Fern. McDormand gives an incredibly moving performance and really brings the character to life but she’s able to do so with such ease because not only is McDormand a great actress but the character is written so well by Zhao and given so much life to her. We don’t have much longer to wait for Zhao’s next film, Marvel’s Eternals,which is currently scheduled to be released in November 2021 and whilst moving from a slow, delicately made, character-driven film like Nomadland to a big superhero film might be a big jump, it seems clear that Zhao should be able to make that leap.

Through the incredible cinematography, directing and performances, certain scenes in Nomadland feel like they could have been taken directly from a documentary. It feels like what you’re watching and experiencing is so real that you almost forget that it isn’t. And because of this, the film just has so much heart and humanity and warmth and all of the film’s characters, even the ones that we only encounter for a few minutes, have such a tenderness to them and really complete the film. The film looks so amazing as well and it takes us from locations like a large, enclosed Amazon warehouse to the vast, open landscapes of the desert and it really feels like the viewer there with McDormand’s Fran.

Nomadland is a powerful film, driven by McDormand’s impressive, yet understated performance as well as the incredible direction and writing from Zhao that looks set to win big at the upcoming awards ceremonies.

★★★★☆

Nomadland is released on 19th February.

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