Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Mauritanian - Movie Review

The Movie: The Mauritanian

The Director: Kevin Macdonald

The Cast: Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Levi

The Story: A detainee at the U.S military's Guantanamo Bay detention center is held without charges for over a decade and seeks help from a defense attorney for his release.

The Review:
We've seen stories in the past about Guantanamo Bay and also movies about the imprisonment, interrogation, and torture of prisoners by the US government although I don't think any of that has ever been presented like this before. Director Kevin Macdonald digs deep into the psyche of the prisoner, played by Tahar Rahim, his lawyer, played by Jodie Foster, the government, and the general perception of people who are labeled as terrorists whether they deserve it or not. I think this is a more realistic look at both how the US has treated prisoners as well as the human beings who are being detained.

The movie is based on the NY Times best-selling memoir "Guantánamo Diary" by Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Tahir Rahim plays the role of Slahi. I really think that Rahim deserves a lot of attention for his performance in this film, there are so many different angles and subtleties to the character and he handles all of it in a way that really helps you to understand and empathize with the man he is portraying. Add to that, having a supporting actor the caliber of Jodie Foster to work with really adds a lot of depth and nuance to their interactions and gives both a chance to really shine. The movie also features performances from Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Zachary Levi and each do about what you might expect from them.

I don't know if I learned anything new from this movie and it's a pretty standard example for this type of film. I wouldn't say it's a bad movie by any means, I enjoyed watching it but, other than Rahim's performance, there's nothing about it that makes it stand out among the crowd. That being said, this is the type of story telling we need to see as it gives a more realistic portrayal of events than we otherwise might normally see.

The Verdict:
The Mauritanian tells the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi in a dramatic and insightful way and features a top notch performance from Tahar Rahim.

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