'Capernaum’ : Bold, Emotionally-Powered Cinema

Poignant Youth-Driven Film

Zain Al Rafeea in 'Capernaum'

Boo Pictures

Zain Al Rafeea in 'Capernaum'

Those who are extra-sensitive to tales of woe concerning children cast adrift will be pained watching the Lebanese film Capernaum (“Chaos), about a tough but fragile 12-year-old (Zain al Rafeea, grim and determined until the final grin shot) and an Ethiopian toddler immigrant (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole — best toddler performance of the year). But anyone with an interest in bold, emotionally-powered cinema and the pressing issues of poverty and refugee struggles — through tender eyes — shouldn’t miss Nadine Labaki’s important film, a nominee for the Foreign Film Oscar and Jury Prize winner at Cannes. Naturalism meets assured narrative machinery and courtroom drama, in the poignant youth-driven tradition of Bicycle Thief and the fellow foreign film Oscar nom Shoplifters.