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92. The Mauritanian; movie review

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Title : 92. The Mauritanian; movie review
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Cert TBA
129 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

It had seemed like an age since we had seen Jodie Foster back where she should be - front and centre of a top movie.
Selective memory had convinced me that she had not even appeared in a film for more than a decade and then a quick scan of the everyfilm blog revealed the truth - her pictures during that time had been forgettable.
Yep, it's been a long long while since Silence Of The Lambs, The Accused or even Panic Room.
But now, as evidenced by her Golden Globes success, she is in contention for an Academy Award for the first time since Nell in the mid-1990s.
In The Mauritanian, Foster excels as Nancy Hollander, a New Mexico lawyer who takes up the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), held in Guantanamo Bay for being one of the chief recruiters for the terrorist atrocities of 9/11.
In the film's opening minutes, Slahi is arrested at a family wedding in his north-west African homeland.
The next we know he is imprisoned at the infamous American base in Cuba.
Kevin Macdonald's film surrounds the arduous attempts to gain his freedom while highlighting the ghastly torture which allegedly took place inside the jail.
Foster's Hollander is hard as nails and is accompanied in her quest for justice by a principled lawyer (Shailene Woodley).
They are pitted against the US government machine which is determined to prevent publicity around the dubious activities at Guantanamo.
They also have to establish the trust of the client who struggles to open himself up to Americans, believing that providing him with lawyers is another trick by his tormentors.
Rahim is excellent in the title role, defiant in the face of humiliation and overwhelming power.
The question of Slahi's innocence or guilt hangs in the air but this makes no difference to the commitment of his chief lawyer who is determined to ensure a day in court, win or lose.
Meanwhile, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the prosecution brief who is also finding it tough to piece together exactly what has happened.
The Mauritanian brings forth the contradictions and complexities of America's activities in Guantanamo Bay and provokes debate over whether mere suspicion of being a terrorist is enough to warrant incarceration and brutal interrogation.
Thanks to its superb writing and cast, it kept us enthralled throughout. 
We watched it as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.

Reasons to watch: Top performances and a true story
Reasons to avoid: A bit of background knowledge is needed

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 9/10

Did you know? The government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as an illegal occupation on the basis that the Cuban–American Treaty "was obtained by threat of force and is in violation of international law." Some legal scholars judge that the lease may be voidable.

The final word. Kevin Macdonald: "I wanted to make a balanced film, which was fair to everyone. In this time of such great division, to see a story where you see the decency in everyone pretty is a bit more life-affirming than what else is going on out there." Screen Rant

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