Thoughts On: A Prayer Before Dawn - Patient Impressionism


A Prayer Before Dawn - Patient Impressionism

Quick Thoughts: A Prayer Before Dawn (2017)

A British boxer is thrown into a Thai prison.

A Prayer Before Dawn is a unique boxing and prison film for the extreme degree to which time is entirely neglected. Lost in moments, in the flaws of our main character, this is a film that impressionistically and patiently confronts an ambiguous futility. In so many prison films, freedom and time loom as entities that rain a haze of nihilism and hopelessness; here, alienation and directionlessness dominate. As you watch a foreign boxer struggle in a Thai prison, you then fail to think about what he may be outside, where he will go, what he will do. A nobody beyond the prison walls, life itself manifests as a dim dungeon of sorts around Billy. Battered by images of abandon and brutality, his insignificance becomes palpable, his yearning for self-destruction beyond understandable. Yet somehow out of the shadow there emerges some kind of light. As implied, this is not the light of freedom, nor a light of a future, but simply a potentially tangible whole and able self. This is what Billy fights for; in essence, to figure out how to secure something stable, something homeostatic, something worth being and continuing to be. There is only further alienation to be found here, however; Billy's path is wide enough, it seems, for only two feet to tread. Such is an inevitability when the journey one means to take is towards individual worth. Alas, it cannot be overstated how intimate and real this call becomes. The camera waits and it hears; its eyes judge and its ears listen for woe. And how penetrating this film's gaze becomes, its realism and lack of melodramatic genre constructs like cinematic bliss. A Prayer Before Dawn is undoubtedly brilliant.

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