Capernaum (2018)

Capernaum (2018)

Angry, stirring, and funny, this Middle Eastern hit is masterpiece.

The Very Best

9.0

Movie

Cyprus, France
Amharic, Arabic
Drama
2018
FEMALE DIRECTOR, NADINE LABAKI
Alaa Chouchnieh, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Cedra Izzam
126 min

What it's about

Zain, a 12-year-old boy scrambling to survive on the streets of Beirut, sues his parents for having brought him into such an unjust world, where being a refugee with no documents means that your rights can easily be denied.

The take

Capernaum is both the highest-grossing Middle Eastern movie of all time and the highest-grossing movie in Arabic of all time. Lebanese director Nadine Labaki was the first female Arab director to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Capernaum is thus duly considered a masterpiece, as it follows an angry 12-year-old kid in Lebanon, who leaves his negligent parents and tries to make it in the streets on his own. It's a tale of grinding poverty as experienced by a boy with a good heart, who meets many kindly people on the way as well as sinister characters. An acting tour de force by the fierce child actors, especially Zain Al Rafeea, Capernaum is harrowing, emotional, and, maybe, a touch melodramatic. However, it doesn't compromise when asking some hard questions about parental failure and love, putting them into the context of the bigger regional picture. It can be a tough watch, but the furious acting and pitch-black humor, ultimately, make this an uplifting movie, likely to stir up some debate.

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