The Mauritanian Review: Tahar Rahim Is Amazing In This Unmissable Drama

The Mauritanian is an incredibly powerful, moving, and enraged film, which is further enhanced by an incredibly magnetic lead performance by Tahar Rahim.

It took years to delve into the decisions made after 9/11. The role that the United States has played in atrocities against the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has rarely been criticized in the movies, nor have the policies that The Color of the Presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, that is, the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay, the horrible treatment of its hundreds of prisoners, and the fact that many remain there without convictions. The Mauritanian, the political drama directed by Kevin Macdonald from a script by MB Traven, Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani, sheds light on all this by focusing on Guantanamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi. The Mauritanian is an incredibly powerful, moving and enraged film, which is enhanced by an incredibly magnetic lead performance by Tahar Rahim.

The film begins in November 2001, with Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Rahim) back in his native North African country of Mauritania. He is there to attend a family member’s wedding, having moved to Germany years before studying engineering at university. However, the joy of seeing his mother and cousins ​​is short-lived when he is approached by a group of men who were sent to arrest him. The lingering image of Mohamedou watching his mother grow smaller in the rear view mirror of his car, as if he felt he would not be seeing her, is completely haunting and emotional.

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the Mauritanian movie review

Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian.

After being arrested in Mauritania, Mohamedou is taken to Guantanamo Bay under the pretext that he is a prominent al Qaeda recruiter responsible for bringing in the men who hijacked the planes on September 11; He was not and did not, which means that the United States held him without evidence or charge. Three years later, in 2004, attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) are assigned to the Mohamedou case. The goal is to show that the United States government does not have enough evidence against him to keep him in prison. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch) struggles to press charges against Mohamedou because he lacks the information he needs and faces obstruction of justice at all times.

The efforts made to get Mohamedou out of Guantánamo are tedious, but The Mauritanian He never falls into the constant pattern of stale courtroom drama (although he dives into the legal waters quite often). Based on Slahi’s real-life experiences and memoirs he wrote while incarcerated, the film does not shy away from criticizing Mohamedou’s abhorrent treatment (including the rather disturbing torture tactics used to force a confession) and government policies and bureaucracy. who defend the corrupt system that prefers to keep Mohamedou behind bars on the mere suspicion of irregularities without just cause. While Slahi’s case unfolds primarily through the lens of his attorneys and their revelations, he is never set aside as the film’s main character, and Macdonald focuses on some of Slahi’s background and his harrowing experiences during his years in Guantánamo.

the Mauritanian movie review

Tahar Rahim in The Mauritanian

The Mauritanian is enhanced by an incredible and nuanced performance from Rahim. The actor is able to capture the energy and variety of emotions that underlie his portrayal of Mohamedou. The humor, the sarcasm, the paralyzing fear, the sadness, the reluctance to trust Hollander after being burned by the law for years, and the firm hope that he will be free despite his continued mistreatment are shown in the performance of Rahim. His body language, from the way he shrugs, his shoulders hunched, and his head bowed after months of torture, to his open, tolerant demeanor that changes when terror enters his eyes at the thought of the guards listening, and facial expressions convey everything that words cannot. When you see everything that has happened and the years that he spent in prison despite having done nothing wrong, it is difficult to feel anything other than acute anger and sadness.

The film is capable of successfully generating tension, which steadily builds as Hollander and Couch encounter resistance from the government: Hundreds of redacted files, unanswered questions, avoidance and secrecy of a cover-up permeate the film and work to explain the situation. Mohamedou case stalemate. And what is more, The Mauritanian He has absolutely no qualms about criticizing the United States government, the Bush and Obama administrations, or the horror that is Guantanamo Bay, his approach is both gripping and devastating.

It’s heartwarming because these stories are often underrated or forgotten entirely, bypassed to focus on other issues that keep the government from being held accountable for its actions. Macdonald, however, with the help of Slahi’s written work, is fully aware of the crimes and atrocities committed against Mohamedou and so many others who are still incarcerated at Guantánamo. Hollander tells Couch that one day the prison will be nothing more than a tourist attraction, and visitors will wonder what exactly happened there and how it continued for so long. It’s hard to imagine that day will ever come, but The Mauritanian It is a chilling reminder that such horrible things happened and continue to happen right under everyone’s nose.

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The Mauritanian now it is projected in theaters. The film is 129 minutes long and is rated R for violence, including sexual assault and language.

Our rating:

4 of 5 (Excellent)

  • The Mauritanian (2021)Release date: February 12, 2021

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