Cell 211 (2009)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Celda 211

Spain/France, 2009.  Canal+ España, Canal+, La Fabrique 2, La Fabrique de Films, Morena Films, Sofica Europacorp, Sofica Soficinéma 4, Telecinco Cinema, Vaca Films.  Adaptation by , Daniel Monzon, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by . Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by European Film Awards 2010.  Toronto International Film Festival 2009.  

Taught, captivating thriller that grabs you quickly and never lets you go. On his first day working at a prison in an administrative position, Juan () is given a tour of the facilities by his new colleagues, but when a prison riot erupts during their rounds, Juan is badly injured and placed in an empty cell for a few minutes while the guards try to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, in a quick turn of events, that cell ends up being occupied by the rioters and our protagonist now finds himself behind enemy lines. Quickly catching on to the situation when he recovers, Juan does his best to pass himself off as another prisoner in order to survive, particularly as he ends up squaring off with the toughest badass in the joint, Malamadre ().  What is most significant, however, is the psychological effect that pretending to be a prisoner has on Juan: eventually he becomes one of them in spirit if nothing else. Tosar is outstanding as the tough guy (his character’s name means Bad Mother) who ends up respecting our hero for his spirit, having no idea what his true allegiance is, and the direction is exquisitely smooth from beginning to end.

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