Cell 211 – 8.5

Are foreign films more “realistic” because a) they stick to more realistic plots – e.g., no gratuitous car-chase scenes; or b) because they use actors I’ve never seen before? If Matt Damon had played the young prison guard and Bruce Willis the tough-guy prisoner, would I have reacted as I did to Julianne Moore and Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right? Instead, I had no doubt that everyone in this Spanish flick, from the scrungiest prisoner to the federal negotiator, was exactly whom they were portraying. Beyond that, the setup was brilliant: the day before he is to start working, Juan Oliver is caught in a prison riot. To avoid certain death, he pretends to be a new prisoner and because of his quick wit and courage becomes an adviser to Malamadre, the head thug, in negotiations with the authorities. You can see his mind working as he weighs the consequences of every word and action, and it is the finest of lines he walks. But everyone on both sides of this standoff is faced with excruciating life-or-death decisions, and most often with two masters to serve. Nothing turns out as expected, but we don’t feel cheated. We feel we have witnessed a scintillating story, expertly played.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *