Lucan Reynolds’s review published on Letterboxd :
The fight starts from within.
A Prayer Before Dawn is raw and realistic right from the start. The very first fight scene is shot in many flowing long takes and punch sound effects are completely non-existent. It's just a starter of what's to come...because the action sequences in this film are unbelievable. Cinematographer David Ungaro said cutting between each punch makes you feel like it's a stunt, leading to his smart decision to do long takes, and wow it feels real. In fact, I think the actors may have actually been hitting each other. It's just...trust me, the action is so unique in this film.
Joe Cole is sensational as Billy Moore, a real-life English boxer who works incredibly well as lead character. Some moments would be from Billy's point of view, putting us in his sweaty gloves, but some would keep us out of his personal space and leave it for the character only, such as his father's letter. I loved how it didn't show the audience what it said. This balance between the two works incredibly well, because we also have to separate him from us. He is a tortured man who uses drugs as a shield for his emotions. He understandably tries to keep his emotions to himself, and it brung out a lot of sympathy for me...but without being emotionally manipulative. In fact, the lack of manipulation is a huge part of what makes this film work too, with a very sparse script that leaves you to do the thinking and not the movie. It's very much an entirely visual film that unapologetically shows you the harsh truth and doesn't even let you recover afterwards. Jean-Stephane Sauvaire laughs in your face when you ask "could you sugarcoat this a little bit at least?", and rightfully so...because what was produced was one of the most brutally visceral movies of the year.
The limited editorial changes really compliments the camerawork, which is some of the best of the year for sure. The cinematography is just...uh, amazing!
In addition, brilliantly indistinct sound design that often makes it difficult for us to hear the dialogue and the constant lack of subtitles really makes you focus on who you are watching rather than what you are watching.
Best Actor (Joe Cole)