Adapted from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 2015 memoir, The Mauritanian leaves you questioning the existence of humanity and whether or not there’s a God!
There comes a moment in your comfortable and luxurious nine to five, drinking iced coffee and having hot bhajiyas, watching the rain from your couch life when you begin to wonder just how privileged you are. Watching movies like The Mauritanian do that for me. Directed by Kevin Macdonald, The Mauritanian tells the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi‘s fight for freedom while he’s detained and imprisoned for 14 years by the U.S. Government without a single charge.
Cast – Tahar Rahim portrays the struggles of Mohamedou Ould Slahi‘s life in prison in a beautiful manner. His vulnerability, helplessness, the horrors he faced in ‘special projects’, and the patience that carried him through 14 years in prison are all captured so well in Tahar’s performance. Jodie Foster plays the role of Nancy Hollander, a criminal defense lawyer who takes up Mohamedou’s case as pro bono. She’s a hardass lawyer with a no-nonsense attitude who “is defending the law.” Watching a hardass like Nancy Hollander break down while reading Mohamedou’s letters, helps one understand just how inhuman the Guantanamo Bay detention center is in The Mauritanian. While Benedict Cumberbatch has a small part in this film, he plays the role of a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch rather well.
Storyline – This film follows Mohamedou Ould Slahi from a family wedding in Mauritania in 2002 to being detained by the U.S. Government for receiving a phone call from Osama Bin Laden’s satellite phone. The U.S. military believes Mohamedou to be responsible for recruiting and training those who piloted the planes that caused 9/11 and the only piece of supposed evidence they have is him having trained with Al-Qaeda for 2 months. It’s fairly obvious halfway through the film that the U.S. Government is simply looking for a scapegoat. After torturing Mohamedou for 70 days under what they referred to as ‘special projects’, the government threatens to arrest his mother and bring her to an all-male prison and rape her, unless he gives them a coerced signed confession. Nancy Hollander represents Mohamedou and meticulously works her way through U.S. military politics to win this case.
What I love – It captures the helplessness of Mohamedou Ould Slahi brilliantly, making you feel like shit about the freedom you are gifted with because not everyone is as fortunate as you and I. The end of the movie was so surprising, that it left me with goosebumps. Listening to Mohamedou Ould Slahi‘s say, “The word in Arabic for freedom and forgiveness is the same.” makes you wonder how it’s possible to have no bitterness for a system that put you through hell for 7 years. At the same time, this scene portrayed something simple and just so beautiful; he could let it all go without holding a grudge. Watching Mohamedou live a happy and full life in the post-credit scene will leave your heart full.
Check out the trailer!
What I didn’t like – I would’ve loved to see Benedict Cumberbatch play a longer part in this movie.
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