Friday, December 14, 2018

Movie with Abe: Capernaum

Directed by Nadine Labaki
Released December 14, 2018

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Siblings with a large gap in age between them often have a more complicated and distant relationship than those who are around the same age. The way that they are treated by parents can also change depending on the size of the family, with more time possible to be devoted to one or two children as compared with a larger group, where older siblings often take care of the younger ones, stepping in as surrogates while the adults work to make enough money to be able to support their offspring.

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is one of a number of children growing up in Lebanon in an extremely small home. He has a particularly close relationship with his sister Sahar (Cedra Izzam), who he looks out for and cherishes. When his parents try to marry her off to a much older man so that she might have a shot at a better life, Zain runs away from home. When he meets Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an illegal immigrant, he begins occupying his time by taking care of a new younger sibling: the baby son that she cannot acknowledge she has for fear of his being taken from her. Living away from actual adult supervision gives Zain a new experience, one that leads him to conclude that his parents were never fit to have raised him.

This film, described as a “politically-charged fable,” is described in most summaries as being about a child who sues his parents for the crime of his being born. That is certainly a component of it but hardly its definitive trait, since it serves as a far deeper and more insightful exploration of what it means to have a family, as Zain and his many siblings share an extraordinarily close space each day and night. They do not attend school and, before being married off, Sahar works as an eleven-year-old each day at the small corner store run by the much older man who clearly harbors affection for her. Zain can see that this is wrong, and audiences will surely agree.

Lebanon was Oscar-nominated last year for its submitted foreign film, “The Insult,” which zeroed in on a conflict between two men from different cultures that exemplified a far larger national rift. Its submission this year is equaling compelling, portraying poverty and social issues in its native country in an extraordinary fashion. Its cast of non-professional actors is excellent, with Al Rafeea standing out for his passionate and believable performance as a child forced to act like an adult based on the role models he sees around him. This is not the kind of film that would be made in America, and it is an excellent import that should not be missed.


No comments: