This is definitely one of the most intriguing, provocative, heart blowing and irritating movies I’ve ever watched, this is the type of movies that leaves you in a disturbed state of mind while gazing at the credits scrolling down on the screen, it’s hard to formulate a solid impression on such movies, it’s definitely impressive and humane, but not necessarily in a positive way.
First of all let me confess that I couldn’t determine the logic behind the movie name, when I googled “Capernaum” I found out it’s the name of a small Palestinian town overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the movie could be referring to it as the location where events are set, or it could be meant as just a symbol of any Arab city, however the movie held many clear indicators that it was set in Beirut and that the main character “Zain” was Lebanese.
I believe that the message meant by the movie is really significant and
substantial, people shall cease from bringing new children to the world unless they are capable of raising them up properly and of securing their basic needs of shelter, food, healthcare and education, I’m not quite sure whether Lebanon is suffering from a serious over-population issue or it was just a general message the makers of the movie wanted to deliver.
Nadine Labaki is a very talented and artistically-motivated director, here 2 previous movies (Caramel 2007 and Where Do We Go Now? 2011) have been wonderfully charming, this one, however, is much less entertaining, and that’s – in my opinion – is its main issue, cinema after all is an entertainment art, I appreciate the joy I feel when watching a well-made movie, and there is a thin line between entertainment and message, every movie maker has to respect that line and keep his movie balanced between both, in this movie I’ve been constantly molested by ugly views of slums (not that the camera views were ugly but the places themselves were) and aggressive scenes, that started from the very first frame to the very last one throughout 2 hours, at least some nice landscapes or enchanting scenes would have helped interrupt this harsh atmosphere.
One other concern I have is the feeling that some movies nowadays, especially in the third world countries – and even in Hollywood and Europe but within different aspects – are being tailor-made for film festivals and academy awards, some approaches and subjects are being celebrated and carefully framed to qualify for hunting a festival prize, for example poverty, breach of human rights, forced marriage of minors, people trafficking, child labor, enslavement of refugees and foreign labor, etc., this movie is a perfect paradigm of such movies, no doubt that it won the jury prize in Cannes and was nominated to the Oscars, I believe that Nadine’s two previous movies were much more intimate, affectionate, well-focused and – above all – more cinematographically enchanting.