The Brag

[Sydney Film Festival 2010] Film Review: Cairo Time

In Arts, Film Reviews, Sydney Film Festival 2010 on June 6, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Next screening: Monday June 7 / 6.45pm / Dendy Opera Quays

Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda (Sabah: A Love Story), Cairo Time is a sumptuous movie-going experience, with two amazing leads, a beautiful location and a simple but engaging story. Patricia Clarkson (Vicky Christina Barcelona, Shutter Island) plays Juliette, a western outsider holidaying in Egypt. Juliette is meant to be meeting up with her UN employed husband, Mark (Tom McCamus) but he his held up in a Gaza refugee camp. Instead Mark sends one of his ex-colleagues and Cairo resident, Tareq (Alexander Siddig, Kingdom of Heaven, Syriana), to pick his wife up at the airport. From here what transpires is a tender romance between two very different strangers.

This gorgeously shot film (thanks to cinematographer Luc Montpellier), makes excellent use of the stunning architecture, both ancient and not quite so old, of Egypt’s capital city. This added to Cairo’s evocative landscapes- makes the film exceedingly good armchair-travel viewing. And for a little while it feels like perhaps this is all the film is going to bring. But thankfully the uneasy beginning, which relies a little too heavily on fish-out-of water scenarios, makes way for the heart of the story, which is a charmingly choreographed holiday flirtation.

Clarkson is one of those actors with a natural screen presence, and this film makes full use of her innate likeability. Siddig is a revelation; the British-based actor has undeniable charisma, making Tareq an enigma of sorts. It is credit to both central performances that the film’s central love story is both morally ambiguous and touching. The film’s superb soundtrack, which includes original music from Irish composer Niall Byrne, enhances the story without interrupting what’s happening on screen. This added to the divine costuming (some of Clarkson’s clothes are to die for) makes this captivating film the full package. [BETH WILSON]


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