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Lebanon, United States, France · 2018
Rated R · 2h 6m
Director Nadine Labaki
Starring Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Nadine Labaki
Genre Drama

Zain, a hardened 12-year-old boy struggling to survive on the streets of Beirut, sues his parents for his own birth. An undocumented refugee stuck in a world that doesn't care if he lives or dies, he seeks justice in the courts. A brutal and heartbreaking portrait of poverty reminiscent of Italian neorealism.

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What are critics saying?


The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

Capernaum’s neorealist spirit is smothered by its sentimentality and endless string of indignities; it’s as if the film is operating as Zain’s trial defense, every moment making his case that it probably would have been better if he’d never been born.


Time Out by Anna Smith

It’s quietly absorbing and fitfully shocking as we experience the sights, sounds and smells of the streets where a one-year-old child can wander around alone without anyone stopping to wonder why.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

Capernaum is a movie that wants its audience to empathize with its protagonist so intensely that you agree he should never have been born. It’s a fascinating (if obviously counterintuitive) approach, but one that’s frustrated by the literalness with which Labaki unpacks it.


The Playlist by Jordan Ruimy

Capharnaüm is not without its issues. The director over-relies on the courtroom scenes and the movie’s message is heavy-handed at times. Yet, the sheer force of the filmmaking and its artful delivery overpowers sappy overreaching.


Screen International by Lee Marshall

If it doesn’t tie many (or any) of these thematic strands with a neat bow, that’s in the nature of a film that chooses raw dramatic power over narrative finesse.


The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin

Although the narrative is structured through a highly unbelievable instigating conceit — Zain is trying to sue his own parents in court for giving him life in the first place — Labaki lures such outstanding performances out of the almost entirely non-professional cast and sketches such a credible view of this wretchedly poor milieu that the flaws are mostly forgivable.


CineVue by Martyn Conterio

Makes for a generally powerful statement on human misery and grotesque inequality, though some third act creative decisions and maneuvers cause a wobble or two.


The Telegraph by Robbie Collin

A social-realist blockbuster – fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope.

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