Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018)

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Critic Consensus: Capernaum hits hard, but rewards viewers with a smart, compassionate, and ultimately stirring picture of lives in the balance.

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Movie Info

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki's CAPERNAUM ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the "crime" of giving him life. CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures. When the non-actors's instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them. While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery. Although it is set in the depths of a society's systematic inhumanity, CAPERNAUM is ultimately a hopeful film that stirs the heart as deeply as it cries out for action.

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Critic Reviews for Capernaum (Capharnaüm)

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (16)

This contrast results in bursts of humor, recalling the likes of Slumdog Millionaire and The Florida Project. But Capernaum is a darker watch than either.

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Labaki's excellent film is tough sledding - a sucker punch that lands with the emotional force of Dickens relocated to the slums of the modern-day Middle East.

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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.

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki brings an undeniable emotional pull to this harrowing portrait of a poverty-stricken child's fight to survive in the slums of Beirut.

Dec 13, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's a fairy tale and an opera, a potboiler and a news bulletin, a howl of protest and an anthem of resistance.

Dec 13, 2018 | Full Review…

There's no reprieve from the extreme poverty that fuels Zain's parents's abuses or that drives Rahil to risk everything to care for her child. Sadness isn't just around every corner of this film; it is in the viewer's face throughout its runtime.

Dec 13, 2018 | Full Review…

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