Designe coupable

Designe coupable
Running time:129 minutes
Director:Kevin Macdonald
Release:Cinema
Release date:14 july 2021
Rating:

Mulder's Review

Kevin Macdonald is one of its exciting directors who alternates our great pleasures with great documentaries (Life in a day 2020 (2021) had its World Premiere at Sundance this year) and landmark films such as The Last King of Scotland (2006), State of Play (2009), How I Live Now (2013) and Black Sea (2014). It is therefore easy to understand his desire to adapt Mohamedou Ould Salahi's autobiographical novel Guantanamo Diary to the cinema. This novel recounted how the author was detained for fourteen years without charge in the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay solely because he had been in contact with terrorists behind the September 11, 2001 attack.

The screenplay by M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani advocates a certain realism and is supported by a director accustomed to bringing exciting documentaries to life. Far from wanting to deliver a Hollywood film that will make the United States triumph once again as the world's savior, Designated Guilty takes a chilling look at the Guantánamo camp and the methods of the American army ready to do anything to make the prisoners talk, even if they are for some innocents like Mohamedou Ould Salahi.

From the very first scenes of the film we discover Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim) living in Mauritania with his parents. In his past, he had supported the mujaheddin by going to Afghanistan while they were trying to overthrow the government of Mohammad Najibullah. He was also trained in an Al-Qaeda camp with which he decided to cut all ties. While the terrorist act of September 11, 2001 had left its mark on the collective memory, the U.S. military was trying to get its hands on the organizers of this act and had turned their attention to Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Rahim) in order to get him to talk.

Imprisoned despite a lack of evidence, he is subjected to extreme temperatures, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, isolation, and torture of all kinds, he will be extorted to write lies making him a terrorist. Yet his existence will attract the attention of a great lawyer, Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster, who won a Golden Globes for her role in the film) and her partner Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). Together, they will face many obstacles to defend her cause, especially since in the opposing camp, the military prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Avoiding falling into a pleading film, Designated Guilty (The Mauritanian) focuses its attention on its main character Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim) who will have to endure the worst excesses while the latter is innocent and become the victim of a military system that has no interest in the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. These prisoners, without any distinction, are guilty of all charges, whether proven or not. Noticed in several excellent films, Tahar Rahim delivers here a remarkable interpretation which we hope will be rewarded with the Oscar for best actor at the next Oscar celebration to be held on April 25th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Once again, Kevin Macdonald's inspired direction and above all the perfect casting of the film make it a real punch film that deserves to be followed by a damning debate on the conditions of this military prison in which human rights seem to be totally disrespected. One will also appreciate the numerous archive images showing us images of the real Mohamedou Ould Salahi and his lawyer and a real link that has been established between them.

The Mauritanian
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Produced by Adam Ackland, Michael Bronner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leah Clarke, Christine Holder, Mark Holder, Beatriz Levin, Lloyd Levin, Branwen Prestwood-Smith
Screenplay by M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Story by M.B. Traven
Based on Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Salahi
Starring Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Levi, Denis Menochet
Music by Tom Hodge
Cinematography: Alwin H. Küchler
Edited by Justine Wright
Production companies: Topic Studios, Black Sheep Pictures, Convergent Media, Oak Street Films, SunnyMarch, Wonder Street, 30West, BBC Film
Distributed by STXfilms (USA), Metropolitan FilmExport (France)
Release date : February 12, 2021 (United States), April 1, 2021 (United Kingdom), April 7 , 2021 (France)
Running time: 129 minutes

Viewed on 02 March 2021

Mulder's Mark:

Marianne Velma's Review

Captured by the U.S. government, Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held for years in Guantánamo without trial or charge. At the end of his rope, he finds two unexpected allies: lawyer Nancy Hollander and her collaborator Teri Duncan. With tenacity, the two women will confront the relentless system in the name of fair justice. Their controversial plea, along with the evidence uncovered by the formidable military prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, will eventually unravel a conspiracy as vast as it is scandalous. The incredible true story of a relentless fight for survival and one man's rights.

When we look at Kevin Mcdonald's filmography, we are struck by the fascination that the Scottish filmmaker seems to have for two themes: normal people caught up in realities that are beyond them on the one hand, and oppressors and dictators on the other. His latest film (he Mauritanian adapted from the memoirs of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, is at the confluence of these two trends. Or how, in an instant, an entire universe can be turned from normalcy to nightmare. 

To tell the story of this 14-year experience in the hell of Guantanamo, Kevin Mcdonald opted for the academism of the Hollywood trial film with its "bigger than life" characters and its ideals... which are undermined here by a spirit of revenge inherited from September 11, 2001. But to narrate the horror, the director, a documentary specialist, suddenly changes format. And of rhythm. As if to warn the viewer that the images he is about to see are moving away from the comfortable classicism he is used to. 

Something has gone wrong in the well-oiled machine of cinema and justice. Especially justice. Rest assured, you will be spared the worst. In any case, the American secret services have already arranged for the most disturbing truths to be kept silent. But everyone has known for a long time that imagining what is going on off-screen has always been the best way to terrify the audience. 

Tahar Rahim, a true chameleon, delivers a subtle performance that seems to respect the personality of the real Mohamedou Ould Slahi. He knew how to find the right nuance to embody this man with a youthful face that only at rare moments lets us perceive the traumas of that time. To do him justice, it was necessary to avoid the trap of overkill and cultivate a rather unexpected form of mystery that serves the narrative. Facing him, Jodie Foster, imperial, expresses all her emotions in a game of looks and small gestures. Pared down but overwhelming. 

It's a pity that Guilty Designated never tries to escape from its classic construction, that it doesn't push the cursor a little further towards the inconsistencies of a sick political system. For all that, presenting Mohamedou's story to the general public remains essential. The film could even help him find his wife and son, from whom he is separated for administrative reasons. Honestly, it is time for justice to be done.

The Mauritanian
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Produced by Adam Ackland, Michael Bronner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leah Clarke, Christine Holder, Mark Holder, Beatriz Levin, Lloyd Levin, Branwen Prestwood-Smith
Screenplay by M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Story by M.B. Traven
Based on Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Salahi
Starring Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Levi, Denis Menochet
Music by Tom Hodge
Cinematography: Alwin H. Küchler
Edited by Justine Wright
Production companies: Topic Studios, Black Sheep Pictures, Convergent Media, Oak Street Films, SunnyMarch, Wonder Street, 30West, BBC Film
Distributed by STXfilms (USA), Metropolitan FilmExport (France)
Release date : February 12, 2021 (United States), April 1, 2021 (United Kingdom), July 14 , 2021 (France)
Running time: 129 minutes

Seen on July 1, 2021 at the Forum des images, room 500

Marianne Velma's Mark: