Film / Cell 211

Cell 211 is a 2009 Spanish film directed by Daniel Monzon. The protagonist, Juan Oliver (Juan Diego Botto), is a young man Happily Married to the beautiful Elena (Marta Etura), who is 6-months pregnant with their first child, and this is the first day in his new job. All well and right, if that job wasn't as a prison guard and there was a riot in the High Security zone led by the scary convict Malamadre (Luis Tosar) that very same day. Now alone and trapped inside Cell 211, Juan must disguise himself and pretend to be another inmate in order to guarantee his own safety, all while trying to draw a plan to get him out of there.

The problem is that he does it so well, however, that soon he becomes something of a second in command to Malamadre. And everything gets worse from there. Very, very, very worse.

Though taking place in a prison, the movie does not follow most of the tropes associated with the prison genre. It won 22 awards, including the Goya award for Best Spanish Film.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Cartel: Apache and the other Colombians belonged to one.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Juan, when he learns that Elena is dead.
  • Dirty Coward: Urrutia.
  • Downer Ending: Juan, his wife and their unborn child die.
  • Driven to Suicide: The spark of the revolt is the suicide of the previous occupier of Cell 211, "El Morao", who killed himself after the prison refused to treat him of a brain tumor. Juan is driven later as well, but fails to hang himself with a belt.
  • Fallen Hero
  • Flash Back: The scenes involving Juan and Elena.
  • Flash Forward: The scenes dealing with the later investigation about the mutiny events.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on a novel written by Francisco Pérez Gandul.
  • Improvised Weapon: The prisoners manage to built knives and even guns out of water pipes.
  • Ironic Echo: "You do what you can."
  • Kick the Dog: "Putavieja" has three. First he tortures an inmate in another alley to know how the riot started. Then he kills Juan's pregnant wife. And then he reveals Juan's identity to the other prisoners in order to save his sorry ass, but it doesn't work.
  • Knight Templar: Utrilla.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Luis Tosar may look scary, but is actually a really nice person, and a singer to boot.
  • Noble Demon: Played to the extreme by Malamadre, a murderer in a high security cell, who ends being the most caring character.
  • No Name Given: Excluding the ETA members, every convict is either unnamed or known by a nickname like Malamadre ("Badmother"), Apache or El Morao ("The Purple One").
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Alberto Amman's sounds properly Spaniard but his native Argentinian accent comes out in a couple of occassions when his character is specially distressed. This is justified because the character is from Argentina (as briefly seen in a dossier) but lives in Spain and eventually adquired the Spanish nationality -required to be a civil servant- so his actual speech could have evolved with the years.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Juan after he cuts the terrorist's ear.
  • Rabid Cop: Urrutia.
  • Playing Both Sides: Juan and Apache, though obviously for different reasons.
  • Worthy Opponent Malamadre shares moments of genuine comradeship and ends up giving a lot of credit to Juan when he discovers the ruse