Not to sound too cynical, but on paper, you get the distinct impression that The Mauritanian was precision engineered to be a serious awards season contender, based on both the subject matter and talent involved on either side of the camera. Adapted from the memoir by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who was held for fourteen years in Guantanamo Bay without being charged, the prestige drama sees a dogged defense attorney seeking justice for her client, before a series of revelations begin to unravel a wide-ranging conspiracy.
Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald directs a star-studded ensemble that boasts two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster, two-time Golden Globe nominee Shailene Woodley and Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, who also produces. That’s the sort of lineup that screams awards season, but reviews haven’t been as universally kind as you’d expect.
The Mauritanian sits at a decent 72% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the performances unsurprisingly being marked out as the undoubted highlight. Despite the caliber of Hollywood stars among the roster, though, most of the plaudits have been directed towards Tahar Rahim, who plays the main character.
The 39 year-old French actor hasn’t been a regular presence in Stateside productions for close to a decade, but that’s surely about to change after he landed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor thanks to his stellar work in The Mauritanian. The movie was released into limited domestic theaters almost two weeks ago, but won’t debut digitally on VOD until next month, and the new trailer does a great job at highlighting the credentials of the cast while promising the sort of mature legal thriller that we don’t really see too much of anymore.