The Mauritanian (2021)

This Captivating legal drama cum real life story, with a thriller like narrative, leaves you in emotional and mental quandary. 

Director – Kevin McDonalda

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

Plot 

Defence Attorney Nancy Hollander (Foster) takes up the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Rahim) who is being detained at the highly controversial  Guantanamo Bay camp as a major suspect in 9/11 bombings but without being charged. All that she aims to do is prompt the authorities to file a case if they have the evidence or release him. 

Stuart Couch (Cumberbatch) from Marine Corps who had lost a close friend in the bombing is asked to be the prosecution attorney.

The opposing lawyers proceed with the case from different perspectives and with different goals but both are being stone walled when it comes to access to information and case files.

Watch this riveting real story to know how and what the lawyers discover and what is Slahi’s past and destiny.

Analysis 

I found the writing and the narrative simply brilliant for the many aspects that it balances. 

It is based on real characters and a real case. It involves a brazen act of terrorism like 9/11 that the world is unlikely to forget. There is a controversial factor of the US govt’s handling of the suspect’s case. There’s also the sensitive issue of Islamophobia that is at play. There’s spotlight on the notorious  Guantanamo Bay Camp that still operates to this day. And they had to ensure that the story is engaging and impactful.

The storytelling precariously balances all of that without tipping over at any of the corners.

They maintain the suspense, unfolding the story in pieces and revealing information in layers. If you haven’t read about the real case, they do not let you know what’s coming. 

They decide to tell you the story as the legal drama because that legal battle was the turning point of the case. But somewhere down the line, it turns a human story. And then it achieves that emotional tug. The overwhelming parts have been handled with sensitivity without trying to encash on the shock factor. I really appreciate that.

The end credits introduce us to the real life characters and their after-story from where the film ends, which enhances the connect and the impact of the film.

Performances

Top notch actors and their glorious performances make this well told story soar higher.

Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim were critically acclaimed for their brilliant portrayals. Jodie looks superb as the kick ass no nonsense lawyer. Tahar, with fine nuances, brings the perfect balance of intrigue, vulnerability and humaneness to his role. Cumberbatch had a small but as per me, a complex role. He plays it subtle and perfect.

The film is not only a thriller-like riveting watch, adorned with beaming performances, but also a very balanced real story that leaves your heart in emotional turmoil and your mind in turbulence.

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