Cairo Time (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
1Apr/110

Cairo Time (2010)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny LIKE"Elegiac." That's the main word that floated through my head throughout Cairo Time, a film that's both surprisingly tender and sensitive.

Now that I've used the word 'sensitive' and driven everyone who comes to this site for takes on various Star Wars prequels, let me explore this enchanting concoction of a film.

Cairo Time stars Patricia Clarkson as an American magazine writer named Juliette on a trip to meet up with her husband, Mark, in Cairo. Mark spends his time running a refugee camp in Gaza, which is time consuming and, due to a crisis, his arrival is set back indefinitely.

You get a lot of your culture clash comedy, but plenty of cheeky character moments as well.

The man who greets her in Cairo, though, is Tareq. An old friend of her husband's, Tareq has retired from his work with the UN and has opened his own coffee shop. He's sweet, charming, retired, and not a bad chess player.

He tries to entertain Juliette at first, but she's stuck in an advanced state of culture shock. After a failed attempt to take a bus to Gaza, she's detained by the border police: the tension in the Middle East that everyone talks about is talked about for a reason.

But the more time Juliette spends there, the more it chips away at her. Egypt is unlike anything she'd seen before, and as she wanders through shops and boats down the Nile, she slowly unfolds the small charms the city has to offer.

It's here the movie begins to shine, for as Juliette's horizons are expanded, the mysteries of Cairo begin to unfold. The city of Cairo, from this film, isn't something easily defined. It's crowded, noisy, and messy. Or is it charming, gorgeous, and lively? Is this city, a city as old as human history, a city that can be categorized or even fully grasped?

This quiet preponderance carries over as Juliette begins to let Tareq open up to her. Moment by moment, they engage each other and their differences. Though they come from radically different worlds, the undeniable splendor of the city they occupy begins to reconfigure their relationship into something strange, seductive and new.

On a brief side note, I can't explain out great it is to watch a movie and have someone admit they can't swim and then not have this figure into the plot at all.

Actors Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig are expertly matched here, both playing sly with charm. Clarkson gets some great moments in, from irritation and compassion, and she also has a hell of a wardrobe-- so good I got to hear multiple comments on it from the missus.

It's nice to see two professionals play so expertly off one another, and both are on top of their game here. Also notable is director Ruba Nadda's wonderful camera, which frames the city as the third character in an unexpected love triangle.

Though Tareq and Juliette's story may not end with everyone going home happy (Juliette's name being Juliette isn't a coincidence), it's an eye opening journey for both the audience and the characters we get to visit for just a short while. It's unbelievably soft, sentimental, and, above all, very, very elegiac.

Posted by Danny

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