Director: Nadine Labaki
126 Mins / 2019 / Lebanon | France | USA / Subtitles

Capernaüm ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain, a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the ‘crime’ of giving him life. Zain journeys from gutsy, streetwise child to hardened 12-year-old ‘adult’ fleeing his negligent parents, surviving through his wits on the streets. He then meets Ethiopian migrant worker Rahil, who provides him with shelter and food, as Zein takes care of her baby son Yonas in return.

Zein later gets jailed for committing a violent crime, and finally seeks justice in a courtroom. The extended, improvised scenes of the boy and the baby on the streets are wonderfully performed and directed. Labaki even creates some sense memories of Chaplin’s The Kid and De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

There is passion and compassion here, and Labaki’s film brings home what poverty and desperation mean, and conversely what love and humanity mean.