Talking Movies: The Mauritanian, Allen vs. Farrow and I’m Your Woman

Spling reviews The Mauritanian, Allen vs. Farrow and I’m Your Woman as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a legal drama, a crime drama and a celebrity scandal documentary.

Starting off with a film now on circuit…


A man fights for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years.

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Stars: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch

– The Mauritanian is a political and legal drama based on the 2015 memoir ‘Guantanamo Diary’ by Mohamedou Ould Salahi.
– Guantanamo Bay has been covered by Hollywood with an outsider’s perspective on the inhumane interrogation and torture techniques.
– The Mauritanian takes a more intimate approach by journeying with one of the inmates.
– While refreshing, the drama isn’t bold enough to take this vantage point exclusively, framing Rahim with more recognised name actors.
– Foster has been taking on more work as a director in recent years, yet delivers a thoughtful and well-composed performance with a stark change in hair colour.
– Cumberbatch is always a good bet and doesn’t disappoint in an uncharacteristic down-the-line average joe role.
– From imprisonment and torture to testimony, Rahim’s performance is the soul of The Mauritanian, echoing his career-defining turn in French crime drama A Prophet.
– While it seems earnest, there’s a cool distance as if no one truly wants to own this film, making it mostly about the performances and the powerful true story.
– Shot in South Africa, a versatile film location that lends itself to creating multiple international destinations, perhaps this contributed to a debased feeling.
– This vague retelling doesn’t capitalise on the suspense of the interrogation or seesaw on the detainee’s actual or perceived status.
– Downplaying matters may add more integrity as a docudrama but steals away some of the panache and intensity this thriller so desperately needed.
– The lack of connection, makes for a frustrating and disengaged experience, giving one just enough information to follow the trail of breadcrumbs but never really promising the gingerbread house.
– Still, the importance of the revelation and adaptation hold weight as do interactions with the real people behind this despicable true story.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a documentary now on Showmax…


An expose of the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen.

Features: Mia Farrow, Fletcher Previn and Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow

– While Allen’s legacy is immense with almost 50 films to his name, he’s been haunted by accusations surrounding inappropriate sexual behaviour with a minor and the scandal around marrying his non-biological daughter.
– As much as he’s denied it, the whispers have lingered turning into a roar as high-profile celebrity figures were called to account during the #MeToo movement.
– The 4-part miniseries takes a comprehensive look at the matter, the history, the fallout, the key players and current narratives.
– Built on several years of research, this intricate documentary is comprised of a wide array of interviews, photographs, audio clips from Allen’s memoirs, home video and archive footage.
– While the series could have been condensed into the space of a two hour feature, it takes its time in unearthing some of the deeper complexities.
– Too young to testify at the time, the case was ultimately dismissed leaving Allen’s long-running, obsessive and sexually inappropriate relationship with Dylan unresolved.
– Unable to secure interviews with Woody Allen, his son Moses or his now wife Soon-Yi, the documentary is lopsided.
– While there’s a strong bias, the testimony and avalanche of evidence is overwhelming, presented in a convincing and irrefutable fashion.
– Questioning celebrity immunity, public personas, the media’s influence, PR campaigns, child testimony and the judicial process, Allen vs. Farrow is a far-reaching and fascinating documentary.
– It’s entertaining and demystifying with enough evidence and media material to have you question your allegiances and raises the divisive debate between personal conduct and art.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a film now on Amazon Prime…


A woman is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey.

Writer-Director: Julia Hart

Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Arinzé Kene

– Brosnahan is fantastic as Mrs Maisel and demonstrates she’s just as versatile in this period crime drama, I’m Your Woman.
– Almost unrecognisable in contrast, she pours herself into this role, comfortable to exist in the hazy ’70s.
– While the production design, make-up and wardrobe set the scene, the characterisation is bland and the storytelling lethargic.
– While it looks the part, has a gentle and comfortable flow much like The Old Man and the Gun, it’s all rather inert and uninvolving.
– I’m Your Woman gently tugs at socio-political and civil rights issues, serves as a well-composed drama but stumbles into suspense and doesn’t really know what to do with itself.
– Underplaying as a thriller and aloof as a drama, one is forced to admire the technical aspects without feeling truly invested.
– While Brosnahan offers a nuanced and compelling lead performance, it’s the kind of role that would have been better served by Emily Blunt.
– It’s a noble effort that’s artful and competent enough to appreciate, yet indistinct and plodding enough to forget.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

THE MAURITANIAN… solid performances and a powerful true story compel this bland and uninvolving legal drama… A satisfactory 6!

ALLEN VS. FARROW… while comprehensive, entertaining, introspective, convincing and far-reaching, this documentary is lopsided and overlong… A solid 7!

I’M YOUR WOMAN… good composure and fine production values aren’t enough to activate this sleepy and inert crime drama… A satisfactory 6!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!