The search for truth and justice isn't always one that leads down such a desirable path, Mohamedou Ould Slahi being a man who will vouch just how long and torturous it can turn out to be. Based on Slahi's memoir, Guantanamo Diary, Kevin Macdonald's The Mauritanian is a legal drama that takes to task the inhumane methods of interrogation and imprisonment at the Quantamo Bay detention camp.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) is captured by the U.S. government and detained in Guantanamo Bay without charges against him for over a decade. Losing hope, he seeks help from defence attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley), who faced countless obstacles in their pursuit of justice. When military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes involved, a far reaching conspiracy is revealed that may just work in Slahi's favour.

As a legal drama, The Mauritanian is certainly a solid film. It's got everything from the busy attornies through to the conspiracy uncovered that Kevin Macdonald manages to deliver to the audience in a sensible and profound manner. This isn't one of those flash courtroom dramas that tries to glamourise the procedure, instead opting to go down the more truthful route that desn't hide away from the incredible injustice Slahi faced during his time as a detainee.

It's not for the faint-hearted either because what Slahi went through is truly inhumane and it's vital that the film doesn't shy away from any of it. He's painted as a terrorist by his captors but this film isn't interested in condemning the man, instead offering the chance for the audience to get to know him and make you feel real empathy towards him for all the pain he suffered over the years. It's an eye-opener for sure and the closing credits just ram home that sense of injustice.

Slahi's story is brought to life through a brilliant performance from Tahar Rahim, the pain behind Slahi's eyes masked by his determination to seek justice for himself and it really exudes from Rahim's portrayal. He could well be the dark horse to look out for when it comes to nominations this awards season.

There's a real feeling of class to the supporting cast and Jodie Foster shines as Slahi's attorney, Nancy Hollander, who, in the face of adversity, fought for what she believed was right. Channeling an accent that almost leans into the territory of caricature makes Benedict Cumberbatch's performance one to get used to a little more as the film goes on but both he and Shailene Woodley are dependably good here.

The Mauritanian is a legal drama that certainly hits hard and, with a central theme of humanity at its core, it's a powerful film that should not be ignored.

Verdict: ★★★★


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