2018 Lebanon 2hrs 30 mins
Director: Nadine Labaki
Nominated for Cannes Palme D’Or
Capernaum –Chaos - is the story of a Beirut street kid who has run away from his unhappy, abusive home. He is befriended by an Ethiopian woman working as a cleaner without legal papers and gets to stay with her in return for minding her baby while she is out at work. But when she is picked up by police, he has to head off back to the streets, taking the baby with him – and is confronted by some terrible choices.
There are extended, improvised scenes of the boy and the baby on the streets which are wonderfully performed and directed. There is passion and compassion here, and Labaki’s film brings home what poverty and desperation mean, and conversely what love and humanity mean.
The boy is Zain, infuriated by the grotesque indignity and cruelty to which his parents have submitted as a result of their poverty – and which he has to endure as well. They are making money smuggling opioid drugs into prison (where his elder brother is a convict). To Zain’s horror, his careworn mum Souad and dad Selim are getting ready to take money from their exploitative landlord in return for handing over Zain’s 11-year-old sister Sahar to this man’s son as a child bride. In a rage, Zain runs away and encounters kindly Rahil and her baby son Yonas. He also encounters the sinister businessman and entrepreneur Aspro.
Zain is not a passive, simpering martyr. He is furious, sweary and violent. He is always angrily shoving and punching and defiantly insulting people, especially his parents.
Capernaum is not a cry from the heart – but an angry shout.