In Cairo on her own as she waits for her husband, Juliette finds herself caught in a whirlwind romance with his friend Tareq, a retired cop. As Tareq escorts Juliette around the city, they find themselves in the middle of a brief affair that catches them both unawares. Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
Cairo Time could be the solution to the date movie, so subtle and full of empathy it has no time for anything that might embarrass the person you are with and you'll have something to talk about later. I saw it alone for logistical reasons, but from the middle of the second row it was quite emersive. I'm no Cairofile; all I know is that the place has pyramids and a funny word for the water pipes they smoke. Those things are touched upon, but the movie avoids becoming a travelogue. Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile) arrives for a vacation with her United Nations honcho husband Mark only to find he isn't there. He'll be busy in Gaza for a while (which is never played for a joke although we get the idea that settling things in Gaza could take a while). Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) a former co-worker of Mark meets her instead and acts as a guide where he can. He would show her the pyramids right away, but she has promised her husband to see them for the first time with him. We might be able to guess where this is heading, but the surprise is that scenes that might not read as 2009 ADD generation content is actually loaded and engaging. We are waiting for tea to steep and not getting bored. Clarkson takes on more of a glow as the movie goes on, but in the early scenes it is her character Juliette's vulnerability that has our focus. A bunch of random flirtations from guys on the street might be a minor irritant in the USA or Toronto's Annex neighbourhood, but here there is a growing sense of jeopardy which reinforces the bubble of trust Siddig's character creates. For another character to burst that bubble by violating the camera frame with a sudden lunge from the teaming masses would be a shame, an intrusion of reality. And yet the film is very realistic as to the unexpressed aspect of life that can turn a bland setting into a postcard perfect image depending who you are with. The director Ruba Nadda spoke after the Varsity cinema screening I attended and it is remarkable that amid the strategies needed to pull off this movie she managed to maintain such a subtle focus. It is nice that also Christine Vachon's brand is there as a producer to suggest how subtlety in a movie might even be considered quirky. But it definitely has the patience and quiet faith in detail that mark Ruba Nadda's previous movie Sabah. I would love to read a diary publication about the making of Cairo Time. From content to execution it is apparently a film only Ruba could have made - it has both ethnic trappings with gravitas and an accessible romantic, dramatic structure of entertainment.
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