Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Nadine Labaki, Zain El Rafeea
Today’s review, is much more than a movie review, it’s an appreciation and a “thank you” to one of Lebanon’s very own; Nadine Labaki. I’m sure all of you cinephiles heard, Capharnaum’s recent Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, not to mention the golden globes nomination, “Le prix du jury” Cannes (2018) and many other festivals. It’s like Capharnaum is winning over the hearts of the jury wherever it goes! The deal with this movie, is that it’s not just an ordinary story to kill time with, it is a story written from the heart and inspired by our everyday reality, and by “our everyday life” I mean the lives of the children we ignore on the street on a daily basis.
After watching Nadine Labaki’s masterpiece, I would like to think that we all have privileged lives; here I am now typing on my laptop about children, who can never read this, you might be reading it on your phones, sitting in your house, meanwhile, a lot of children like Zain and Maysoun are on the street trying to make it to the next day. What the Lebanese filmmaker did, shook me to my very core, she literally showed us what it would be like to have a life like Zain’s, to lose hope at such a young age, an age where we used to play pretend while our parents took care of the rest.
Nadine Labaki’s films remind me so much of the Italian Neorealism movies - for example the 1948 film Bicycle Thieves - in which the Italians were frequently using non-professional actors, the scenes were filmed on location and the stories set amongst the poor. Caramel, w halla’ lawen and now Capharnaum. She always shed the light on a real-life situation in her movies because, to her, cinema is not only for entertainment but also a way to affect change on society, and I couldn’t agree more! However, the talented filmmaker didn’t only change some of society’s perspectives, she also changed her casts’ lives: Zain and his family are off to a new start, Maysoun and Sahar are now in school! It is so fulfilling that a movie, didn’t just talk about an issue and walk away. I gladly say that my faith in Cinema has been reassured!
If we want to get technical now, I’m only going to write about two things that interest me the most: script and acting.
Zain is constantly searching for a new hope, trying to save everyone around him while he needed saving! The script is so genuine and so real that you dive into the story effortlessly, you are hooked from minute one. It handles this disturbing real-life situation in an honest and delicate way. The script will literally, take over you, not only in the theatre but in your daily life too! Now, every time you see a child on the street, you can not but notice a Zain in them!
Since it’s a real-life situation movie, it is very important that the actors execute it in the realest way possible! As for the acting, hats off to the performances of all actors, no exception! It is the cherry on top of the excellently written script! And let’s keep in mind that they aren’t professional actors, but maybe it was the best decision for this kind of movie, because who would portray such misery better than the people who are actually living it!