The Mauritanian: Film Review

The Mauritanian

The Mauritanian scored five BAFTA nominations – including Best Film and Outstanding British Film – but came away with none for the Oscars, which would suggest that it has gone down better with some voting bodies than others. Having now seen the film myself, I can understand the performance nominations but the film itself is lacking.

The film tells the story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim), who was detained in Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba without charge from 2002 until his release in 2016. He was suspected to be the head recruiter for 9/11 in Germany, a member of Al-Qaeda, and a friend of Osama Bin Laden. After a German newspaper reports that Salahi is imprisoned in “Gitmo” in February 2005, American lawyer Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) decide to take up his case and pursue habeas corpus proceedings so a court can determine if his detention is lawful. However, they face many obstacles, including criticism for representing a presumed terrorist and the military heavily redacting almost every piece of useful information they need.

The facts of what happened to Salahi make me angry, upset, and sick to my stomach, yet Kevin Macdonald‘s film didn’t make me feel those things. I should have come away feeling more emotional, more outraged, and frustrated but it didn’t evoke those feelings in me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t completely unaffected by scenes depicting Salahi being tortured in disgusting inhumane ways – they were incredibly distressing and uncomfortable to watch – but the focus is largely on Hollander and her fight to get paperwork clearance to pursue his case rather than us getting to know Salahi. I found the ending slightly disappointing too – I thought we were going to watch the trial play out (the reason behind that soon makes sense, but the expectation was still there) and thought there would be more to it.

Rahim is astonishing in this role and thoroughly deserves his BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. He impressively portrays a person who is desperate, hopeless, losing the plot, and on their lowest ebb. He elevates the material and makes the torture scenes all the more devastating. Foster is well cast as the polished, professional and feisty Nancy, who has no issue standing up for a person’s right to legal representation, even if that person might be a terrorist. Woodley’s Teri is very different – she is morally conflicted about the case and is feeling the pressure. Benedict Cumberbatch provides solid support as military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, who stands by his morals and Christian beliefs when confronted with the distressing information he uncovers, with the reluctant help of his buddy Neil (Zachary Levi).

Given the subject matter, The Mauritanian is nowhere near as gripping as it should be. The story is shocking and interesting, no doubt about that, but the film itself didn’t reel me in; I had to make a conscious effort to concentrate on it. It reminded me a lot of 2019’s The Report – which deals with the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11 – and that film handled the subject better.

On Amazon Prime Video from 1st April

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Endings, Beginnings: Film Review

Endings, Beginnings

I love to watch Shailene Woodley onscreen so I was excited to see her mostly improvised performance in Drake Doremus‘ latest – Endings, Beginnings – and while she excels in the conflicted role, the movie as a whole was a bit of a disappointment.

[Read more…]

Big Little Lies season two didn’t do enough to justice its existence

When it was announced that Big Little Lies was coming back for a season two, I criticised the idea on Metro.co.uk, saying it was only meant to be one series, as the action covered all of Liane Moriarty‘s book, and there was no real reason for a continued storyline, except for that little detective tease at the very end. I loved the first season and didn’t want a rushed, half-arsed follow-up to ruin it – and that’s generally what we got.

[Read more…]

Departures: Film Review

I was a big fan of The Fault in Our Stars which meant Departures – also known as Then Came You – had an uphill battle to win me over. The plots are very similar so you can’t help but draw comparisons between them and Departures fails to match up.

[Read more…]

Adrift: Film Review

Shailene Woodley proved she was a great actress when she found fame with her breakthrough role in The Descendants (although she’d been around much longer) but I almost forgot about her talent thanks to the woeful Divergent franchise. With Big Little Lies and now Adrift, Woodley reminds us how capable she is of putting on a truly impressive performance.

[Read more…]

Emmys 2017: Best and Worst Dressed

It doesn’t feel like awards season ever really stopped, but it’s properly back in full swing! WOOHOO.

[Read more…]

I don’t want a Big Little Lies season two

Big Little Lies, which ended in the U.S. aaaages ago, finally got its finale in the U.K. this week and I LOVED it. I enjoyed the whole show and I was sad that we wouldn’t be getting more episodes but upon further reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want there to be a season two.

[Read more…]

Snowden: Film Review 

snowden-film-review

Edward Snowden, who exposed the illegal mass surveillance techniques used by the NSA on all US civilians in 2013, is a very interesting person with an incredible story to tell so it’s just a shame that the dramatisation about his life lacks a certain something and isn’t as powerful as the Laura Poitras‘ 2014 documentary Citizenfour.

[Read more…]

Divergent fans deserve better than a TV movie

div2-min

Shailene Woodley and Theo James as Tris and Four

This week it was revealed that the final Divergent movie, Ascendant, could be released as a TV movie rather than a theatrical release and I couldn’t believe it. Yes, the films have decreased in quality and box office figures but to bow out now is just a kick in the teeth for fans.

[Read more…]

The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Film Review

div1

The issue with the Divergent franchise is that it has always been far too similar, and not as good as, The Hunger Games, which also suffered a slump in its third movie because the final book was unnecessarily split into two films – an obvious money-spinning ploy which negatively impacts the momentum and energy of the movies. The Divergent series has never been amazing, but Allegiant is a new low that won’t even please fans of the novel.

[Read more…]