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The Mauritanian (2021)

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Mohamedou Ould Salahi fights for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years.


Kevin Macdonald


Michael Bronner (screenplay by) (as M.B. Traven), Rory Haines (screenplay by) | 4 more credits »
21 ( 140)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tahar Rahim ... Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Nouhe Hamady Bari Nouhe Hamady Bari ... Mohamedou's Niece
Saadna Hamoud Saadna Hamoud ... Groom at Wedding
Mohamed Yeslem Mousse Mohamed Yeslem Mousse ... Wedding Guest
Mohamed Abderrahmane Arava Mohamed Abderrahmane Arava ... Wedding Guest
Aly Deyde Aly Deyde ... Wedding Guest
El Hocine Aba El Hocine Aba ... Wedding Guest (as El Hacen Aba)
Baya Belal Baya Belal ... Mohamedou's Mother
Baba Mine Baba Mine ... Deddahi
Lemrabott Zeine Sidamar Lemrabott Zeine Sidamar ... Policeman
Yenje Abdellahi Yenje Abdellahi ... Policeman
Jodie Foster ... Nancy Hollander
Shailene Woodley ... Teri Duncan
Clayton Boyd ... Lawyer
Denis Ménochet ... Emmanuel


Based on the NY Times best-selling memoir "Guantánamo Diary" by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, this is the true story of Slahi's fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander and her associate Teri Duncan who battle the U.S. government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up. Written by STXfilms

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence including a sexual assault, and language | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) recruits Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) to translate French. Foster is in fact quite fluent in French. She delivered her commencement address in French and has even appeared in a French language film (A Very Long Engagement (2004)). See more »


Nancy Hollander: It doesn't matter what we believe. What matters is what we can prove.
See more »


Features My Brother's Keeper (2020) See more »


Tirwah Makam Kar
Written and Performed by Noura Mint Seymali
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User Reviews

The Good Fight
19 February 2021 | by jadepietroSee all my reviews

IN BRIEF: Very good acting enhances this true story about injustice.

JIM'S REVIEW: (RECOMMENDED) Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) stands accused of terrorism and defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) fight for his freedom in Kevin McDonald's impassioned but slightly flawed film, The Mauritanian. After being detained and imprisoned without charges in Guantánamo Bay Priso by the U.S. government for years, their case and cover-up finally goes to trial with some surprising turns of events.

The Mauritanian is based on a true story and director Kevin McDonald skillfully depicts a series of chain events that led to Slahi's capture and imprisonment. The screenplay by M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani has some compelling dialog and strong conformational set pieces, but it is a tad choppy with out-of-sequence flashbacks providing his backstory. These scenes tend to slow down the film's pacing and serve more as sub-plot than needed exposition. Whenever the film stays focused on the investigation and its legal maneuverings, the movie excels with its two standout performances by the lead actors.

Mr. Rahim is excellent in his well-written part. We watch his strength and disillusion shift and he delivers a harrowing portrayal of man tortured and accused. Ms. Foster is commanding in her no-nonsense role as his crusader, a woman more concerned with the law than her client's morality. Their attorney/client moments together are superb and help to build interest in this legal drama. Both are worthy of award consideration.

Some of the supporting characters, while well acted by Shailene Woodley, Zachary Lev, and Benedict Cumberbatch as the prosecuting lawyer, seem stereotypical products of that era of terrorist activities and national paranoia: the gung-ho military soldiers, the liberal-minded defense attorneys, the innocent or not so-innocent client,, the questioning prosecutor, etc. But the basic scenario of injustice rings true and gives moviegoers a gripping drama.

Director Mr. McDonald does not shy away from the intense scenes of sound deprivation sexual humiliation, and waterboarding techniques which were a part of his stay there. (The film is not for the squeamish.) To the filmmaker's credit, he also never confirms Slahi's guilt or innocence of the criminal accusations, although he does place the blame for his illegal confinement solely with the US Government. One wishes the film contained more courtroom scenes than investigative ones. This could have shed more light on the case and its characters.

The Mauritanian is a strong cinematic plea for tolerance and justice to prevail in our legal system. It is an important film worth viewing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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French | Arabic | English

Release Date:

12 February 2021 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guantanamo Diary See more »

Filming Locations:

Mauritania See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$163,789, 14 February 2021

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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