Starring: Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tahar Rahim
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Running Time: 129 mins
The Mauritanian is an American film about the true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, held without charge in Guantanamo Bay, and the lawyers who fought to give him the trial he rightly deserved.
Many films have exposed the terrors committed by the US government in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but The Mauritanian seems to take that one step further, with a shocking look behind the curtain that is the infamous Guantánamo Bay.
One of the things that really sets The Mauritanian apart from many other films dealing with this subject matter is its focus on the legal repercussions of the government’s actions in Guantánamo.
Led by Jodie Foster in a typically resilient performance as a humanitarian lawyer who fights the corner of a suspected terrorist, the film builds on your already existing knowledge of Guantánamo Bay as it develops towards a shocking crescendo.
Fundamentally, however, the film soars on the back of its focus on legality over politics and morality. Without doubt, it’s easy to take a side when you’re being told one side of the story, but the reality is that proof of reality is what makes a difference, and the film recognises that, all the paying respect to the true story it is based on.
Throughout, The Mauritanian combines different voices in riveting fashion, and while one could call its presentation of the US military often cartoonish, the film doesn’t neglect to show the humanity of all sides, really tugging at your heartstrings as it showcases the devastating effects of torture on not just a prisoner, but the many, many people associated with his case.
As a result, the film manages to blend cold, fact-heavy legal drama with gripping emotional depth, keeping The Mauritanian nicely balanced between reading a textbook or watching a work of pure fantasy.
It’s a thrilling watch with moments of truly shocking drama, equally kept on the ground thanks to its attention to detail and expert performances across the board, with not just Foster, but co-stars Benedict Cumberbatch and above all Tahar Rahim doing a brilliant job throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving The Mauritanian an 8.2 overall.