'Cell 211 (Spanish: Celda 211)' is a Spanish prison-drama film that released in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim and box-success. On its release the movie won 8 Goya awards (Spain's main national film awards) for best actor, supporting actress, breakthrough actor, director, sound, editing, picture and screenplay.
The movie tells the story of a prison riot led by the inmate, Malamadre (Luis Tosar). During the riot, a prison warden called Juan (Alberto Ammann) gets trapped amongst the inmates. The warden thereafter poses as a fellow prisoner as he tries to survive.
I was reluctant to watch the movie as I had heard nothing about it. When, I did watch it, it blew me away. I love prison movies and this offering is up there with the best.
The feature gets straight into the story from the start, cracks on with gripping drama, shocking moments, violence and a tension filled atmosphere. It's an intense view as the fate of the lead actors near. The ending is perfect.
The downside is the sub-plot involving Juan's wife Elena (Marta Etura), it takes the momentum away from the main story and at times drags. Saying that Etura had the last laugh in the end by winning a Goya award for best supporting actress.
The main thing that makes the film work is the Tour De Force stunning performance from the menacing and deep voiced anti-hero, Luis Tosar. Just sheer brilliance. As a result he deservedly won the award for best lead actor. Alberto Ammann also puts in an award-winning performance complimenting Tosar perfectly. The scenes involving the interaction between Tosar and Ammann are of the highest quality.
The award-winning direction by Daniel Monzón is excellent. He explores the themes loyalty, friendship, revenge and betrayal with finesse. His end product is powerful as it gets.