These filmmakers think they can just use real folks instead of actors, and have cameras follow them around in poverty, and we’re supposed to believe it’s art. This was 2 ½ hours long, and each minute, my wife and I were looking at each other and asking “Why are we watching this?” Perhaps some critics think this is “art” (at least most of the critics in the San Diego Film Critics Society seemed to agree with me about the problems with the film). It’s the type of movie that people can watch and then compare to the kids at the border, while complaining about Trump. It’s the type of movie that people feel is important. It’s just garbage (literally and figuratively).

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) has stabbed somebody, but he’s not in court in Lebanon for that charge. He’s suing his parents for giving birth to him. And you thought the McDonald’s/hot coffee lawsuit was crazy. It’s a framing device that works poorly.

The premise could’ve worked, but it’s the fact that we follow a child in such poverty. It’s not fun or interesting watching the abusive parents (one sibling is chained up). Now, I wasn’t a fan of The Florida Project, but at least that gave us some characters doing a few interesting things. So in this, we end up watching kids scrounge around the streets. Of course, every character we meet is awful.

There’s a section where we watch Zain babysit for an illegal immigrant. That’s almost interesting.

The handheld cameras always annoy me. They’re so overused these days. Also, the manipulative nature, with every scene trying to get tears out of us. It’s crazy to think that I cried more in the two other movies being released this weekend (The Upside, A Dog’s Way Home). This didn’t get tears from my eyes, just rolling of the eyes. And just in case your tear ducts weren’t working the way the filmmakers wanted, there’s an annoyingly sad score and strings that often come into play.

The screenplay was written by Jihad Hojaily, Nadine Nabaki, and Michelle Keserwany, and it’s merely poverty-porn. There’s nothing about this movie that warrants you watching it, unless you feel the need to watch every movie getting award consideration. It won the “Jury Prize” at Cannes, it’s got a nomination in the Critics’ Choice Awards (which you should watch on Sunday), and it’s going to be nominated in the “foreign film” category at the Oscars. But trust me, there are much better ways to spend a few hours.

1 star out of 5.


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