16 November 2018 | andrewestrella
The Best Foreign Film Ever Made?
I have taken so long to review this film because it has had so much of an emotional effect on me. It was also the first film I saw at AFI Festival and since I was genuinely shocked at how bad the subsequent films I saw there, I decided to get those out of the way first.
Well, here I am, giving my review on the most heart-wrenching yet most beautiful film I have ever seen. The "acting" was absolutely extraordinary (standouts are from a young eleven year old boy and a one year old baby). The score from the director's husband happens to be one of my favorite pieces of music from the decade. The cinematography manages to take some of the most disgusting places in the world and manages to give it beauty, especially through the gorgeous landscape and aerial shots.
Coming from a Lebanese female director, Capernaum is a film that discusses a variety of issues, but I will try to make it as simple as I can. In the present day, our main character, eleven year old Zain is a boy currently serving a sentence for stabbing a man. Through certain circumstances, Zain is able to take a break from jail to partake in a court case against his parents, where he is attempting to sue them for ever having him in the first place and to urge them to never have kids again. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see Zain suffering in his large family of about seven to eight, including sisters of all ages, and two horribly misguided parents. The parents struggle financially, forcing their children to work long hours and never partake in school. The parents also abuse Zain for being extremely rebellious in nature (think of Rebel Without a Cause) and they starve him a lot. There is a lot of family issues here, but over the course of the film, Zain experiences a journey of a lifetime, running away from home and trying to make a life for himself, living life on the streets. Regardless of the amount of suffering Zain goes through, he delivers an utmost love and care for everyone around him.
Capernaum is an extraordinary film that won my heart in every way. It depicts the harsh realities of the children living in squalor in Lebanon, and perhaps in all of the Middle East. Filmed as a narrative, Capernaum actually uses real life Syrian refugees and kids who were all going through extremely similar circumstances to the ones found in this film. The director and her husband were their following the screening, and they really emphasized how they spent 100s of hours in Lebanon, ensuring that they experienced the squalor themselves and the interviewed hundreds of children to get an idea of what life is like there.
The common theme: "I wish I never lived" or "I wish my parents never had me."
The director took those two most common statements and developed a powerful film that gives humanity to these children who need it most. Perhaps the themes of love and compassion amidst squalor and pain could be a guiding light to all the children who are suffering in the foster care system or are getting abused here in the United States as well. I just hope Capernaum spreads awareness to all people throughout the world that child abuse is still rampant throughout the world, and all children want to be is loved. All people want to be is accepted and have a home. All people just wanted to be treated like a *queues Tommy Wiseau's voice* human being.
Honestly, I am proud to say this is currently my favorite film of all time. At two and a half hours long, I was begging for more at the end. Bring lots of tissues, but also do not be afraid to let loose and laugh a little.
Regardless of all the positive reviews for Roma, I am going to be rooting for Capernaum to win Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. This experience changed my life, and I hope it does for you as well.
Fun Fact: The original cut was ten hours long.
Another fun fact: This received a 15 minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival, and it was well deserved.