12 year old Zain (Al Rafeea) lives in chaotic squalor in Beirut with his neglectful parents and multiple siblings. When his beloved younger sister is married off to a local merchant, he runs away from home. He is taken in by Rahil (Shiferaw), an illegal immigrant from Ethiopia with a baby named Yonas. Zain becomes Yonas’s babysitter, but when Rahil doesn’t come home from work, he struggles to find ways for the two of them to survive.
Labaki’s brilliant third feature finds the Lebanese director working with non-professional actors whose real-life situations informed their on-screen characters. Al Rafeea is a revelation, a Syrian refugee in Beirut who portrays Zain with a heartbreaking blend of innocence and resilience. Labaki’s camera hovers at Zain’s shoulder height, and we experience the cruelty and indifference of the city from his point of view. Almost too sad to bear, Labaki delivers a moment of hope in the final transcendent shot of this magnificent, deeply moving film.