Celda 211

June 2nd, 2010 by Coventry

Celda 211   Celda poster01CR 84x120 thriller reviews reviews drama action Director: Daniel Monzón
Writer:
Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Daniel Monzón based on a novel by Francisco Pérez Gandul
Release year:
2009
English title:
Cell 211

Everybody in the whole cell block was dancing to the jailhouse rock!

Celda 211   BIFFF 2010 minilogo1 thriller reviews reviews drama action In order to make a good impression at his new job as a prison warden, Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann) visits the facility on the day before he’s supposed to start, to get a tour and introduce himself to his new colleagues. Wrong time and place, as it turns out to be…

Celda 211   Celda pic01CR 300x160 thriller reviews reviews drama action

You may always wake me up to go and watch a Spanish thriller. I don’t know, but there’s something about their style which makes the thrillers much more grim, realistic and unsettling. Two terrific recent examples are King of the Hill (2007) and Backwoods (2006). Although neither of those two feature a very original basic concept, they are almost genuine throwbacks to the era of 70′s exploitation film-making, what with their raw atmospheres and massive amounts of uncompromising violence. This was pretty much also what I expected from Cell 211, but this brand Celda 211   Celda pic02CR 300x199 thriller reviews reviews drama action new Spanish prison thriller even features a compelling and highly intellectual script with a handful of ingenious ideas and unpredictable plot twists. This is a politically engaged and harshly satirical drama that simultaneously criticizes the prison system, government and economic recession in Spain.

In order to make a good impression at his new job as a prison warden, Juan Oliver visits the facility on the day before he’s supposed to start, to get a tour and introduce himself to his new colleagues. Wrong time and place, as Juan becomes injured when a piece of wall comes tumbling down the ramshackle building. His soon-to-be colleagues put him to rest in the empty cell 211, but before they can return with medical support, there’s the outbreak of a severe prison riot. The uprising, initiated & led by the charismatic and fierce Malamadre (who has his name tattooed in the back of his neck), is aimed at the media in order to make the malpractices within the prison walls public and all convicts entrenched themselves in the cell block where they keep the heaviest cases. Malamadra knows how to grab the media’s attention and cause political nervousness, as he has three Basque terrorists hostage and threatens to kill them. Juan awakens amidst the mad-raving convicts with his Celda 211   Celda pic03CR 300x203 thriller reviews reviews drama action anonymity as his sole advantage. He pretends to be a new inmate arrival, sentenced for murder in the first degree, and wins the sympathy of Malamadre. Meanwhile, outside the prison, Juan’s pregnant wife heard the news reports and anxiously hurries to the prison.

Cell 211 mostly benefices from its authentic claustrophobic ambiance, marvelously detailed character drawings and contemporary accurate social statements. The convicted criminals perhaps come across as nihilistic scum, but in fact they run a well-structured and respectably effective little organization and their goals are actually even modest and understandable. Especially Malamadre, the seemingly brute and feared leader, is really a rational and “likable” character in comparison to some of the prison superiors and sadist wardens. Cell 211 remains suspenseful and involving from the first minute until the very last, thanks to a couple of totally unexpected and truly shocking surprise twists that haunt your thoughts even long after leaving the cinema. Daniel Monzón, director of The Kovak Box (2006), assures a solid direction and the performances of the entire cast are terrific. Some performances are even close to phenomenal, like Luis Tosar‘s portrayal of Malamadre and Antonio Resines‘ unthankful role as the veteran guard Utrilla. Highly recommended and definitely worthy of all the awards that it won already in its home country!


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