Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Paramount Pictures
Now Showing

Ruba Nadda’s new film could best be described as a love poem. Make that two love poems: one to the Egyptian capital which it effectively captures so evocatively you’ll be tempted to book a flight; the second to Patricia Clarkson, the velvet-y voiced actress who you’ll recognise from countless supporting roles but who gets a rare leading role here and shines.

Clarkson plays Juliette, a magazine editor who, having just seen the last of her children flee the nest, arrives in Cairo for a vacation with her husband. He works for the UN and trouble in Gaza has him delayed but Juliette is spared the hazards of navigating Cairo’s busy streets, and the attentions of its menfolk, by Tareq (Alexander Siddig), a former employee of her husband’s who now runs a local coffee house.

Tareq escorts Juliette throughout the city, visiting the gardens, attending a wedding and taking a boat ride on the Nile. But not to the pyramids which seem visible from every part of the city; she’s saving them for her husband. And that’s pretty much the film: Juliette and Tareq, walking and talking, talking and walking; an attraction between the two becoming increasingly evident. But will they or won’t they? Think Before Sunrise/Sunset for the post-40s.

Cairo Time is very much a small film and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is far less agreeable company to spend 100 minutes with than Patricia Clarkson. (Side note: How lucky is the child who gets to hear that voice read them bedtime stories?) Alexander Siddig also makes for a more than agreeable host, while the sights and sounds of Cairo will tantalise you. The film’s soundtrack may be the next best thing for those who can’t afford a plane ticket but you may also need to purchase a hookah (I said, hoo-kah!) to complete the experience.

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