Celebrated in May 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival. Where he won the prestigious Jury Prize, Nadine Labaki’s Capharnaüm. That will be in French cinemas from October 17, 2018.
Worn by an incredible actor out of the street. The film plays the card of emotion to denounce a world whose infernal cruelty is nothing. But the result of the selfishness of men.
Denounce to make exist
Nadine Labaki’s film Capharnaum is a protest letter to the state of the world. With the story, closer to the story than the reality, of a very young Lebanese. That is dragging her parents to justice for giving birth. She tries to denounce the situation of street children – whether they are refugees or Lebanese, marginalized. Because they are abuse or because they do not have identity papers. The action takes place in Lebanon, but it is less the local society that the harshness of the human relationships. That Nadine Labaki shows us: Everything is a story of trust and solidarity. In his absence, everything collapses and plunges into a shambles of unheard-of violence.
The first images unambiguously expose the entire model of the film. On the development of a languorously dramatic music are unfolding the games of street children – the war. With wooden weapons, these little bodies torn from the innocence of childhood attack without restraint to their comrades on the other side.
These images, which recall the poignant documentary images that Jocelyne Saab film in 1976 with the young survivors of the Quarantine massacre in her short film The Children of War, set the tone for the film. It is a melodrama that proposes Nadine Labaki, whose subject is the violence of which are victims beings a priori too young to defend against the injustice of the world.
The main character
Zain, is a child who does not exist for the world around him – he has never been declared. The actor is unmatched in his anger against the world. In break with the narrow world in which he was propelled, he decides to disappear and ensure himself his miserable survival, at any price.
The result of a wild cast operated over several months, the choice of performers is remarkable, and naturalism is undeniable when Zain befriends a baby a few months, Yonas, child of Rahil, Ethiopian without papers came as a servant at Lebanon to try to make a better living. Abandoned to their sad fate, it is together that they will face the violence of the street, welded as ever, as long as the drama imposed on them by life allows it.
Union as a model of struggle
Capernaum is above all a film that questions the confidence necessary. It is establish the social contract at the base of all human society. It portrays characters who have chosen not to follow the rules enacted by the public and political authorities. Who, in any case, do not really care about the protection of their citizens.
It opens on the suffering of a betrayal, a lie with unheard-of consequences, a disarray without measure. It continues on surprising encounters, atypical. And yet essential to the characters to raise the bar and find the strength to continue to advance their boat. The power of the film resides in the emotion that provokes not the glaring injustice of the brutality of the world of the street. But the unparalleled goodness that solidarity offers, if it finds its place in the space of precariousness in which one threw it.
The relationships between the different characters. That Zain meets in his infernal journey are all lights that pave the way for the boy to hope for a better world. Worried by rage, fear and sadness. He will be ready himself to betray the confidence placed in him to postpone the hour of the verdict and postpone the sentence until later, without thinking of the dark ones. tomorrow awaiting him without blinking.
The film is built on flashbacks, far too many. Which suffocate a little energy of a film that bears this angry child, and whose ease loses its accuracy. When he arrives at the bar of an institution as regulated as a civil court. The camera, worn on the shoulder, offers the viewer. That is no respite, plunging his head first in the dirt of the streets and the mediocrity of human trafficking that manifests itself in all its possible forms.
Lastly, the omnipresent music emphasizes a little too often the emotion aroused by melodramatic relapses or forms of deus ex machina which the film could have done without.
The concept that supports all the scenes could also be discussed.
What to think of the fatality carried by the very subject of the film? Zain accuses his parents of giving him life, while they prove unable to ensure the safety and happiness of their children – obviously too many for the decency. It given the misery in which this family struggles.
If the lives of these children, immersed in unimaginable precariousness, seem unbearable. The question of their right to be there can not be posed without provoking an essential debate. Although the film gives Zain’s mother space to defend herself and respond to Nadine Labaki. Who embodies in her film the young boy’s lawyer. That she has a tender love for her children and that such a judgment is intolerable. The boy’s sentence buzzes in our ears like a parasite throughout the film. What conclusion can one draw from sad destinies?
Still, Capernaum is a necessary film. Necessary for what it shows of the invisible, the unspoken, the margin. The terrible reality of the precarious suburbs of Beirut. Where it is still possible to procreate without making exist, bypassing at the expense of all legislation that must be there to protect everyone. That burst unmask under the eyes of a guilty spectator, also to ignore the existence of this parallel world.
Without trying to make people feel guilty for the principle of the citizens, the film still shakes the consciences of the most legalistic, and insists without despairing on the need to change things. What we finally remember about the film is this power driven by the rage to live, even when it would seem easier not to be in the world. This power offers a kind look, a gesture of solidarity, the confidence lavished by love and friendship.
Rating: R (for language and some drug material)
Directed By: Nadine Labaki
Stars: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole
Written By: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Kesrouani
In Theaters: Dec 14, 2018 Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Mar 26, 2019
Runtime: 123 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
It’s a very harrowing portrait… Zain Al Rafeea is amazing.
It’s essential viewing for the ways in which it illuminates brutally hard lives many of us could otherwise not imagine, and for the craft of its nonprofessional performers.
Jail and courtroom scenes, at the beginning and end, may be a tad implausible, not to mention scrappy. But the middle section, mostly shot on handheld cameras on the streets of Beirut, is breathtaking, topical, hilarious, tender and brutal.
It’s harsh and abrasive, and sometimes difficult…but Labaki has layered the film with just enough moments of kindness to break your heart.