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  • Writer's pictureGareth Bradwick

The Mauritanian ★★★

Kevin Macdonald

Starring Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Levi

Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch are the standout names in this true to life picture based around a detainee at the U.S military’s Guantanamo Bay detention centre who is held without charges.

Nancy Hollander (Foster) is a defence attorney who takes the case to free Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) as we learn what his time in the detention centre has done to Mohamedou.

The subject matter, based on the book by Mohamedou himself is eye opening. You may have seen some of this in the news over the years and some may be more aware of the subject than others. It’s another timely reminder that nothing really changes and there’s more than we can know going on behind closed doors.

If we were to base this review on the story itself, The Mauritanian would be a must watch. However, the main issue with this movie is that it treats the material as a standard throwaway psychological drama and therefore loses its touch with reality as we progress through the story.

All of the actors involved do their best to bring truth to their characters however there isn’t much time for them to provide any depth to the roles. The only exception to this is Tahar Rahim who is excellent as Mohamedou; if only the movie gave him the space to show the nuance he brought to the character.

There are some noteworthy moments in the film; the chats with an inmate over the gate bring more humanity to the piece, while at the end there is one of the best uses of the end credit true story “explainers” out there. However, a stereotypical portrayal of the brutality of US military and the bizarre torture sequence added to the feeling that there is a better version of this story to be had.

When deciding whether a film based on actual events is a good movie, it’s easy to say something is good purely because the story is gripping. The story of The Mauritanian is indeed just that, gripping, sad and painful; the film however leaves a lot to be desired.

The Mauritanian available now on Amazon Prime

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