Posted December 22, 2011 by Alex Moss Editor in C
 
 

Cell 211


In the wake of the superb prison film A Prophet, Daniel Monzón’s intense prison rebellion Cell 211 in comparison comes more as brash, violent drama rather than the heady odyssey of Jacques Audiard’s 2009 film.

In the wake of the superb
prison film A Prophet, Daniel Monzón’s intense prison rebellion Cell 211 in
comparison comes more as brash, violent drama rather than the heady odyssey of Jacques
Audiard’s 2009 film.
That’s not to take anything away from what is in its
own way a brilliant film that poses many questions about what goes on behind
the tall walls of the penal system.

With regards to the story, when new prison guard Juan finds
himself stuck in the middle of a violent prison riot he is forced to hide the
fact he is a guard and convince the inmates that he is one of them. The tense
struggle between maintaining an authenticity as a fellow prisoner and the
suspicions of the other inmates, keeps Cell 211 on the edge of
unpredictability. As Juan cleverly reads situations within the embattled prison
and takes sometimes drastic measures to ensure his safety, the relationship
between himself and the ruthless riot leader Malamadre, a ‘lifer’, begins to
grow. But will Juan be discovered? And will he betray Malamadre once the riot
is over?

There’s plenty of machismo spirit in which to indulge in
Cell 211 and with Luis Tosar in
utterly convincing form as the menacing Malamadre, there’s an exponentially
growing force of tension that makes this film so engrossing. The inclusion,
however, of two parallel stories of the warden and his security team, who watch
on as the riot escalates, and that of Juan’s wife, Elena, who while out
shopping finds out about the riot and fears for her husband’s safety. At times,
these stories only act as interjections of the more interesting prison scenes
and add to the overlong running length of the film. The use of flashbacks
though as ‘memories’ of Juan and Elena’s love for each other is a much more
moving and affecting style than strictly having these scenes acted out in real
time.

The real appeal of Cell 211 is the dynamic of the
relationship between Juan and Malamadre, and the evolving emotions that Monzón
is able to evoke through a subtle style of direction. This is an interesting
contrast to some of the more violent scenes that feel very visceral, yet at the
same time are as equally powerful as the more quiet moments. Set for an English
language remake, make sure you catch Cell 211 before the depressing reality for
successful foreign language films, such as this, kicks in and the memory of the
original is buried beneath a heartless Hollywood remake

Check out the exclusive to Filmjuice clip for Cell 211 out on DVD January 9th 2012.



Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com