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What the critics said about Jodie Foster's The Mauritanian

What the critics said about Jodie Foster's The Mauritanian
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Read what the critics had to say about The Mauritanian, a legal drama about Guantanamo Bay starring Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim.

Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim and Benedict Cumberbatch star in The Mauritanian, an inspired-by-true-events story about a man imprisoned by the US government at the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp without trial or even charge.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus chaos, the film has missed out on a cinema release in the UK and instead landed direct on Amazon Prime Video this week.

Despite earning five BAFTA nominations, the movie was snubbed completely by the Oscars - it had been tipped for Best Picture, while Foster was expected to get a Best Actress nod - having received a mixed bag of reviews from the critics.

Scroll on to find out what they had to say about The Mauritanian!

The Guardian

Fence-sitting Guantanamo drama provides few answers: "With this movie, we are plunged right back into the exasperating 9/11 fence-sitting handwringer genre that was fashionable in the 00s: conscience-stricken films that invited us to sympathise with their liberal agony... It's opaque and frustrating. Rahim gives a perfectly decent performance and everyone else does an honest job. Slahi himself is throroughly entitled to his own happy ending, cheerfully listening to Bob Dylan over the closing credits. But this movie is content with congratulating itself for being on the right side of history, with little attention paid to questions unanswered and history unresolved."

The Times

A bland visit to Guantanamo: "A bland smattering... that teases us with the possibility of complex roles (Rahim's Slahi is the most coherent) but flits skittishly around most (Foster's snowy bob is more interesting than her character) and leaves some, including Cumberbatch's Couch, swinging in the wind — his Foghorn Leghorn southern accent was, being kind, a mistake, yet he clings to it for dear life."


Well-intentioned but somewhat dull: "Wasting big-name actors, The Mauritanian is simultaneously over-stuffed and under-powered, turning a horrifying real-life ordeal into something flat and formulaic. Only Tahar Rahim's consummate portrayal of grace under duress stands out."

The Independent

An urgent condemnation of the evils of Guantanamo Bay: "The film's power lies in its direct confrontation with the ideology that underpinned it all. Lingering shots of American flags fluttering above a prison yard speak to a protective kind of nationalism; the vague, frantic manner with which government officials brush away doubts remind us that a public desire for blood, post 9/11, superseded all sense of justice."

The New York Times

A Tale of Truth-Seeking: "Trapped for the most part in featureless rooms, a stellar cast - including Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley - deliver dull speeches and sift through redacted documents, brows furrowed and lips compressed. Flavorless characters and a blizzard of flashbacks further repel our involvement in a drama whose timing, to say the least, is unfortunate. After weathering almost five years of rolling political scandals, American audiences could be less than eager to be reminded of one more."

The Irish Times

Guantanamo drama in need of greater bite: "Few viewers will find themselves unengaged during The Mauritanian, but there are too many middlebrow beats either side of the jarring chords. Definitely worth a stream. Unlikely to change many minds."

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