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DIRECTOR: Nadine Labaki (caramel, where do we go now?)
STARRING: zain al rafeea, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Yordanos Shiferaw, and Kawsar Al Haddad

REVIEWER: lyall carter


While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.

I watch a lot of films. I used to before I started doing this, but now I watch a heck of a lot more. But sometimes you just can't make every film you're invited to and I nearly missed Capharnüm. Don't be like me. Make sure you see Capharnüm. Now. Stop reading this and just go. 

Zain, a hardened, streetwise 12-year-old Lebanese boy, is in jail for a violent crime. While serving his sentence, he sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him. We begin to learn his heartbreaking story of abuse, neglect, and abject poverty. 


Capharnüm is one of those films that you feel like you've been emotionally punched every which way as you stumble out of the theatre into the light. It isn't an easy watch by any stretch of the imagination, but its essential viewing. 

One of the many terrific things about cinematic story telling is that often it gives an opportunity to an audience to become fully immersed in the places and lives of people that they would never normally encounter. Capharnüm does just that. 

We experience the absolute poverty of Zain and his family, his very young sister being married off, the struggles of illegal immigrants, and ultimately Zains daily struggle to just stay alive. 

But beautiful, funny, heart warming moments punch their way through the chaos bringing a light in the midst of dark despair. 

The cast of Capharnüm are absolutely first class led brilliantly by Zain Al Rafeea who is a revelation as Zain. His acting, and that of the entire cast, is so utterly convincing that you are almost hoodwinked into believing that this is actually a documentary. 

Capharnüm is a stunning, unrelenting masterpiece. Not to be missed. 


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