Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Cell 211 (2009)

In this taut and claustrophobic prison thriller a freak accident lands an unfortunate guard, Juan, in the nightmare situation of waking up alone in the eponymous cell just as a full scale riot ensues; in order to survive he must convince the inmates he is one of them and tension rises as he befriends the imposing leader of the rebellion, Malamadre,brilliantly played by Luis Tosar. Can Juan sustain the deception? If so, how far will he have to go to do so? Will somebody 'out' him? Are all the prisoners as they seem? And will Juan get to see his pregnant wife again? You’ll be on the edge of your seat preparing to find out as the days unfold!

Successful prison-based films should leave the viewer feeling transformed, as if they have suffered a sentence, too. From Brubaker (1980) to Shawshank Redemption (1994) to A Prophet (2009), Carandiru (2003), Bronson (2008) and Hunger (2008), these films depict prisons as a bowel of hell, an immense pressure cooker, a place where testosterone levels can at any moment clash explosively; they embed the viewer in a confined, subnormal environment and brush them up against the dregs of society. Often these films span several years, or decades, and leave the viewer feeling like they've been on the worst journey imaginable; Cell 211 only spans a few days but leaves the viewer no less battered, which, along with its many well-deserved Goyasis, is a testament to this superb film’s power and Danial Monzon's brilliant direction.

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