Cairo Time is a beautiful melancholic film, rich in imagery, with a gentle pace forcing the viewer to slow down, to great reward.
Patricia Clarkson plays Juliette a successful magazine editor who has come to Cairo to join her husband on a well deserved break. He works for the UN and upon arrival she learns that he is delayed due to trouble at a refugee camp on the Gaza strip. She is met at the airport by her husband’s former security officer and friend, Tareq (Alexander Siddig). Left alone in the city, she is drawn to Tareq who acts as a sometime guide. A love affair blossoms, surprising both of them.
From the opening scenes with Juliette coping with the heat and jetlag, you have a great sense of place, almost like you have taken the journey there yourself. Cairo is an impressive city, and makes for an important third character to the story.
Patricia Clarkson gives an introspective performance that is superb. The camera lingers on her expressive face to great effect. With very little dialogue she manages to let you in on her inner feelings, whether it is the shock of being found attractive by the city’s young lotharios, or her growing unexpected attraction to her very dashing guide. Even when competing with Cairo for scene-stealing images, she commands the screen. It confirms her as one of the best actors around. Alexander Siddig impresses alongside her.
The film is beautifully directed by Canadian Ruba Nadda. All technical aspects of the film are first rate, excellent cinematography and production design. Special mention to the costume designer who certainly aids Patricia Clarkson in creating a beautiful believable character.
The film may not be to everyones taste, it’s slow pace can be seen as a drawback if you don’t succumb. Perhaps there are a few to many shots of walking through bazaars for my liking. It touches on some local politics to no great effect, seeming forced, maybe there to try and give more depth to the protagonists? Minor quibbles really in an overall satisfying cinema experience. Go take the journey.
Now playing in cinemas.