Capernaum, co-written and directed by Nadine Labaki, is something truly special! It’s more than just a film, it’s an experience unlike anything I can remember having. It’s one of the most emotionally overwhelming films I’ve had the pleasure to sit through. I don’t know if I can properly put into words how this film made me feel and how even at this very moment when writing the review, it’s causing me to well up. Join me, as I try to make it through this review without becoming a complete blubbering mess and hopefully explore in a semi-compotent way the magically turbulent journey of Capernaum.
We follow the story of Zain – played by Zain Al Rafeea – a 12-year old boy who runs away from home after his younger sister is married off so that the family can continue to remain in their apartment rent free. His journey and actions result in Zain being sent to prison where he is serving a 5-year sentence for doing what was right, which is something that comes naturally to him. This is his story.
Capernaum goes beyond being just a film. It’s something that… that tears at your soul… that overwhelms every sense you hold within you. It’s unlike anything you can ever imagine, it will force its way into your heart, it will hurt you, it will lovingly gather a smile from you, and it all goes towards offering a story that has you broken, teary eyed and knowing that you’ve been a part of something truly special. It’s a film like this that reinvigorates your love for the medium of film. It’s shows what the art form is capable of and it evolves it into something more… something I still can’t fully process without being completely moved by it.
One of the many incredible elements of the film to love and be in awe of is that it’s all completely led by a 12-year old boy, who (and this isn’t hyperbole) delivers one of the best performances I have ever seen!
Zain is a fearless, resourceful, kind soul who protects those who he loves and unleashes his fury upon those who may try to hurt him or them. When you look at him and you see the lengths he will go to insure the safety and well-being of the people he cares infinitely for, you don’t see a little 12-year old boy. Instead you see a young man who is capable of anything. Who I firmly believed could take on anything the world threw his way and conquer it with his courage and a wickedly brash tongue.
Zain was someone I never stopped caring about and rooting for. His story… his journey is one full of unimaginable pain and hardship. It was a journey I found impossibly difficult to watch and it had me fighting back tears on multiple occasions. But despite that, I never wanted to be anywhere else but right there with Zain on his journey, being a part of his story. Which is something director, Nadine Labaki was an integral part in creating.
Her focus on Zain and the way the camera existed in his world, made being a part of Zain’s story all the more effective. I at all times felt right there alongside him. When he was in a scrap or when he was fighting to simply find shelter and food, I always felt connected through how Labaki put me in the situation with him. As you can imagine, that creates an incredibly strong bond between you and Zain, and that bond went onto have me giving over every part of my heart to this film and not being afraid to let my emotions show.
Many people come in and out of Zain’s life and each one of them is someone who you can’t help but be drawn in by, no matter how detestable they may be. This is a film… a story filled with some of the worst that the world has to offer, but also some of the purest, and exploring all of their stories through Zain’s was something that went into elevating a simple film into something grander.
Capernaum isn’t just a regular feeling film. I genuinely felt like I was watching the real stories of real, genuine people. That’s in part because Nadine Labaki took from real people’s stories and she went deep down into them and never shied away from exploring every dark part of them. I never really saw Capernaum as just another film, but instead as something much more. To me, I was given a window into the lives of real people, in stories that were as honest and as real as everything actually around me. It’s difficult to explain; it’s something you can only understand if you’ve seen the film.
And that’s something I hope everyone does. My time with Capernaum was something I won’t and don’t want to forget. After the film had finished and my friend and I left the cinema, we walked for some time without a single word being said between us. We both knew what we had just shared in and we both knew the other wanted to quietly process all of it. It’s one of the most powerful times I’ve ever spent with a film and at this point stands as the best film I’ve seen in 2019 – and I can’t imagine anything taking it off of that podium.
This film reinvigorated my love for film and helped show me – after what has felt like a significant amount of time with very, very few films speaking to me and making an impact that was truly unforgettable (‘Roma’ being the last film to have such an effect) and it’s experiences like what Capernaum offers, why I love cinema so much!
I wholeheartedly recommend, Capernaum. Please go see this film. Share it with anyone who will listen and make sure everyone knows that Capernaum is one of the most special films there is, and it needs to be seen by everyone!
Please let me know what you thought of Capernaum, I’d love to hear your reactions to it. If you liked what you read, then please consider following my blog directly and keeping up-to-date with all my new posts by following me on Twitter – @GavinsRamblings. You can also hear my audio ramblings by checking out my podcast – ‘The Meandering Movie Podcast’ – by heading over to iTunes (https://apple.co/2FUkAhU ) Soundcloud (https://bit.ly/2S4sMm6) or Castbox (https://bit.ly/2N7Z6zA) and giving us a listen. Feel free to follow the Twitter – @MeanderingPod – for all the updates. I want to finish by offering you my sincere thanks. Thank you so much for stopping by, reading my rambling nonsense and showing some support. I hope you liked what you read enough to consider returning. Have a great day!