The Mauritanian (2021) Review

Certificate: 15

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Screenwriter: Michael Bronner, Rory Haines

Starring: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 129 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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Based on the NY Times best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, this is the true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi finds allies in defence attorney Nancy Hollander and her associate Teri Duncan who battle the U.S. government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up – Written by STXfilms

This was for certain one of my most anticipated films of the year.  Court Room Dramas or Expose type films, based on True Stories are one of the weird niche genres that I personally really enjoy.  For the most part, this was everything that I thought it would be, and a few pacing issues notwithstanding, I enjoyed this film a whole lot. 

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The opening hour or so of this film really takes it’s time to find it’s feet.  There is a lot of jumping back and forth and it is used mostly to introduce us to all our main characters, get to know their personalities and give us a little bit of background on who they are and what their role is in the story.  Then at about the half way point things really start to ramp up, and we get a really intense, tension filled, and emotional second half where the bar is risen and acting of Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim rises in quality to meet it.  I feel a little like Benedict Cumberbatch was wasted in this film.  Not enough time or effort was put into his character, you never really feel that he is the opposing force to Foster, and is attack on conscious comes a little too fast and a little too out of the blue. 

The are definitely some shocking scenes in this film, particularly the ones that reveal how detainees were treated in Guantanamo Bay.  These scenes are hard to watch, and stressful to watch, and lend a real feeling of anguish and shock to the second half of the film.  The film does heavily utilise flashbacks to tell Mohamedou’s story, which can be a little disorientating.  But the change in aspect ratio during these scenes will help to keep audiences on the right track.

Fantastically acting and amazingly written, this is a definite must watch from me.

‘The Mauritanian’ is available to stream on Amazon Prime Now.

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