This film was difficult to get into, as the boy Zain is such an unlikable little shit. Compounding that is a world of bleak poverty. Struggling to survive is tough to watch on screen. Alfred Hitchcock once said he’d never make a “kitchen sink movie” where domestic chores are too close to home for the audience. The idea was to take them away into intrigue and suspense. In Capernaum they went the other direction and there isn’t even a kitchen sink for half the picture. It’s that dire.
I literally put it aside for a month and gave up on movies for a while. Then I returned, and perhaps he’s not such a little shit after all.
Zain’s sister is reaching puberty, and he fears they’ll sell her off to some strange man, as that’s the standard among refugee children. This unfolding struggle drives Zain to madness, trying to protect his sister.
Much is made about the need for identity papers, living illegally in Lebanon. The illegal people are dehumanized and their spirits crushed, and Zain breaks out and runs away.
Zain is then in a situation where he must care for a toddler. Must. Even as he tries to abandon the little one. His character and the acting are amazing, and the film won many awards at international festivals.
It was quite unflinching and not the kind of movie that Hollywood could even produce if it wanted to.