Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2019) aka Capharnaüm (which apparently means 'clusterfuck')

Zain al Rafeea (Zain), Yordanos Shiferaw (Rahil), Boluwatife Treasure Bankole (Yonas)


While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.

This is a tear-jerker, and it's too long, but it is very good indeed.

In Capernaum, the heartache of the underprivileged is on such interminable display that you feel the physical hurt in your bones. But the manner in which the filmmaker renders these pains somehow doesn’t feel exploitative or gratuitous—there is a nuanced matter-of-factness even in Labaki’s empathy that prevents it to ever become pity. If anything, the co-writer/director seems to know and care about the exact kind of kid she follows in Capernaum, a fighter who has no option but to remain independent, resourceful and tireless at the end of each exhausting day the sun sets on, with no promise of a brighter tomorrow.
... There is an undeniable neorealist quality to Labaki’s work. ... Labaki builds the dead-end life Zain dwells in with watchfully measured details: every dried tear, every piece of hand-me-down clothing, all the mud and dust underscore the daily harshness of a world where babies wear chains (not only metaphorically) so that they can’t get themselves into danger or trouble while unattended. And thankfully, the filmmaker affirms to have no interest in misery porn by the end. ... Tomris Laffly.

... Visually, Capernaum is notably more sophisticated than Labaki’s previous work, and certainly more gritty. Sequences where the camera hovers around Zain’s height allows for a sense of subjectivity without an easy reliance of p.o.v. shots, and rising cinematographer Christopher Aoun proves his mettle with a number of potent scenes, such as the moment when Zain tries to protect his parents from selling Sahar for a few chickens. Editing is also skilled, and Khaled Mouzanar’s low key music is in perfect harmony with the film’s emotional tenor, accompanying the action without manipulation for most of the way. [end] Jay Weissberg, Variety.

Garry Gillard | New: 2 March, 2019 | Now: 12 March, 2019