The author of the book The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss, says that when we are children, we seldom think of the future. Innocence leaves children free to enjoy themselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind. What we see in Nadine Labaki’s Oscar-nominated movie Capernaum is a sharp contrast to this. In Capernaum, we see a skinny lad of around 12 named Zain Al Rafeea whose hands cuffed and brought before the court. He tells the judge that he wants to sue his parents. His gaze would explain his emotions.
Capernaum: the strong outpourings of 11-year old boy
The movie was nominated for the best foreign film for the 2019 Academy Awards and lost to A Fantastic Woman. The film chronicles Zain’s experience who lived in a slum with his parents and numerous siblings. In an age when his instinct to play freely is the strongest, he was burdened with exhausting shifts of tiresome work. Because of the imminent responsibility of being the elder brother, he was never allowed to go to school. Food, warmth, or love was scarce in his life. The film tries to paint the portrait of a conflicted world with the dark colors Zain had.
The flowing realism and non-professional casting of the movie gave a sharp narrative look for the film. The brute and chaotic Beirut life made Zain run away when he is not able to stop his parents selling his little sister to their landlord as a child bride. The courtroom and climax scene are so intense that it readily leaves the audience in tears. There is furious protestations from Zain as he sees self-pitying parents who explain their despair at their respective fates.
Child perspective, the innocent perspective
Through the perceptions of a child, the world can be big, scary, and endless. Capernaum is undoubtedly one of the best films made through the perspective of a child. When it comes to the straightforward take on the complexities of life and humanity, Capernaum movie touches our hearts and allows us to understand the world and takes us back to our childhood.
Capernaum lost at the Oscars, but indeed it won the hearts of millions. It is a proud moment for Lebanon to see Labaki as the first female Arab director on the red carpet. Labaki, who had not only shed light on childhood poverty, but she was the first Arab woman filmmaker to win a major award at Cannes for a film that dealt with childhood poverty.
Have you watched Capernaum yet? Catch the electric performances of Nadine Labaki and Zain Al Rafeea in this Lebanese flick on Netflix. After watching Capernaum, you probably need to soothe your soul and here are some romantic comedies for just that.