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Capharnaum : A realistic depiction of extreme poverty

In this day and age , where everything is run by official documents , are you a human even if you don’t have any documents to prove your birth ? This is one of the core philosophy that is being questioned in Capharnaum . Directed by Nadine Labaki , this film will question the chaos around the world through the eyes of a child and shows you a realistic depiction of extreme poverty .

The film begins with Zain , a 12 year old boy , who is in courtroom trying to sue his parents . The film as it progresses flashes back and forth between past and present of Zain’s life . Through his eventual desperation of a failed attempt at saving his sister from a child marriage , he runs away from home . Through the people who meet him after running away and the journey that unfolds , the director wanted to give voice to the voiceless on screen .

Zain Al Rafeea who plays Zain in this movie is extraordinary at portraying the character so well . I was mesmerised by the way he handled the scenes where he was taking care of a weeping kid , and how the camera stays still and lets the boy flex his acting . The character played by Yordanos Shiferaw, the young Eritrean woman who plays the infant’s mother was also really good . It was heartbreaking to know while doing research for this movie that she like her character, was an undocumented immigrant when cast as Rahil , and in fact after playing a scene in which her character is arrested for not having proper identification papers, she was arrested for precisely the same infraction . 

Labaki also tries to show how the system is broken using this film . She shows this through eyes of Zain . Child Marriage and consequences of it , debt ridden parents having kids without having proper means of taking care of them and how you are not treated as human if you don’t have papers to prove it . Through the silent gazes and raw screenplay the movie shines at questioning how if a system is broken and everyone is around to see it , who will step up to fix it?

Though the film portrays its character like black and white , either you are good or bad , and lack of trust in audience to draw conclusion from an objective drama , it is a riveting watch . This Oscar nominated film is available on amazon prime at the time of writing this review . So spend an evening and watch this film .

Rating : 8.5 / 10

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