It’s been out on DVD since Jan – but it’s well worth a look. Review follows…
On its limited release back in July of last year, Daniel Monzon’s Cell 211, a gritty, disturbing look at the Spanish penal system, may have passed many potential audience members by. This would have been a great shame, because it is a taut, effective and grimly compelling prison drama.
Based around a wonderfully inventive concept – an inexperienced guard trapped in a riot has to pretend to be a convict to avoid being killed. It is a beautifully simple idea – and one that has enough twists and turns in it to keep every kind of audience on its toes.
Central to the drama is the relationship between the guard Juan (Alberto Ammann) and the leader of the riotous prison mob, Malamadre – literally ‘bad mother’ in English (Luis Toser). Juan must win his trust if he is going to survive, and the two performances are intense, believable, and even strangely likeable.
The action, when it hits is brutal, uncompromising and bleak. No doubt some will find some of it a bit too much but for fans of realistic prison dramas this is a sure fire winner.
Extras include an interview with the director and a making of documentary.