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Movie Review: Capernaum(2018)

LanguagesArabic, Amharic
TNS Score89.6
PlatformPrime Video
Run-Time2h 30m
CastZain Al Rafeea, Nadine Labaki, Yordanos Shiferaw
DirectorNadine Labaki


The story revolves around the life of a small Lebanese boy who runs away from his negligent parents, in search of a better life, just to find himself caught in the spiral of poverty and hardship at a young age of 12 years. In the moment of frustration and heightened emotions after his sister’s death, he commits a crime and has to serve a sentence, he further sues his parents for giving him a life which is worse than anything one can imagine.


The narrative has been written very well, as it highlights the realistic aspect of the plot. The story being told here is not of one fictitious boy but it’s about millions of children like him, who’re caught in the spiral of poverty without any choice. The ambiguity of the narrative is justified by the element of realism.

Even though the film is more of a situation based narrative than a story, it talks about the adversity of the conditions in which this sect lives and grows up.


It’s by the virtue of good direction, that the film has been able to maintain its aesthetic along with the element of realism. The aerial shots in the beginning and at the end of the film, capture the essence that the director wishes to infuse, in its entirety.

Furthermore, since the film isn’t much about the story but about the realistic condition of children who’re born and brought up in such an environment, thus it becomes a much more direction centric film. And no doubt, direction has been flawlessly done.


If the film deserves a critical acclamation, it’s largely because of Zain Al Rafeea’s character of Zain. This little boy has done a commendable job while enacting the protagonist of the film. A scene towards the end when he is asked to smile for a picture for his ID, he does not smile and those few seconds of seriousness and maturity that reflect on his face, are just phenomenal, until he’s asked to smile again.

Yordanos Shiferaw’s character of Rahil has also been brilliantly performed. Other characters played by, Nadine Labake, Cedra Izam, Alaa Couchnieh, etc. also deserve a commendation.


Undoubtedly the film is heart-rending and emotionally draining, but it is made so beautifully well that you cannot miss watching it. Often, we define entertainment as a light-hearted escape from reality, but this film, on the contrary will make you think and feel. For the sake of brilliant cinematography, flawless performance and its perfect representation through direction, watch the film instantly!

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