Award-winning director, Kevin Macdonald brings together an incredibly talented cast, consisting of Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tahar Rahim, Zachary Levi, in his breathtaking film The Mauritanian.
The film follows a non-linear story structure, showcasing two different timelines simultaneously: the present and the past. The Mauritanian shows the true story of a suspected 9/11 terrorist and his time spent in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay without any charges laid while his defense attorneys investigate the case, fight for his civil rights, and uncover the conspiracies.
So far, the film has received various nominations and awards. Most notable are from the recent Golden Globe Awards where Jodie Foster became the best supporting actress in a motion picture drama while Tahar Rahim was nominated for the best actor in the same category.
The Mauritanian is a very intense film for various reasons. It is a movie that can be difficult to watch at times but is, nonetheless, incredibly necessary. It is a motion picture that one will think about for a while and feel genuinely shocked by the details presented in it.
Here’s The Rundown
Rahim is a true star in The Mauritanian. The heaviness of the movie is mainly the result of his powerful performance. Rahim’s acting is breathtaking and feels as if you are genuinely watching fourteen years of Mohamedou Salahi’s life in prison. Rahim manages to bring every emotion to life, no matter how difficult it may seem to portray them. His performance resonates with the viewer long after the film finishes.
The cinematography of The Mauritanian is interesting to see. The use of hand-held cameras for the majority of the film feels messy while, on the other hand, this technique is, nonetheless, brilliant. It emphasizes the feeling of being with the actual characters as they go through life. No one sees the world through a Steadicam, which is why the use of hand-held cameras is a wise, effective choice.
The decision to distinctly show the difference in the timeline by changing the aspect ratios adds a lot more to the story than one may think. The film uses 1.85:1 ratio when showing the present and about 1.50:1 ratio when showing the past. Using a smaller ratio rather than a widescreen one emphasizes the sense of claustrophobia and better depicts Mohamedou’s feelings. The character does not feel whole but instead cramped and small in his environment. The technique induces the similar feeling of claustrophobia in the viewer who is watching Mohamedou endure certain challenges in prison, for example, when the detainee is first introduced to his tiny prison cell in Guantanamo Bay.
Though at times the non-linear story structure with changing timelines is a bit convoluted, it still unfolds at a good pace for the viewer to be able to keep up with the details. The film ensures not too many details are given to the audience at once to keep them engaged and form questions that will be answered later.