Cinema Review – JDIFF 2010: Cairo Time

Cairo Time is the story of a woman, Juliette (Patricia Clarkson), who journeys from the US to Egypt to meet her husband for a holiday. Juliette’s husband, Mark, works for the UN in Gaza. Mark delayed from journeying to Cairo to meet her and so has his friend and former colleague, Tareq (Alexander Siddig) meet her and show her around the city. The longer Mark is delayed, the closer Juliette and Tareq become.

Patricia Clarkson has flown under the radar for many years. She has given us some fantastic performances over the years, in Good Night and Good Luck and The Station Agent to name just two. Clarkson’s performance in Cairo Time is no different. While most women would rage that they are left alone in a strange city with customs so different to what she is accustomed to, Juliette just quietly gets on with it, and when he runs into trouble, turns to Tareq. Clarkson plays the character with a quiet grace and just an air of mystery which is slowly peeled back the closer she gets to Tareq.

Alexander Siddig is the perfect on screen companion to Clarkson, they are both quiet and polite in their own ways, but as the film progresses they let little glimpses of their frustration with their lives be seen. Siddig plays Tareq with just the right amount of smoulder and as he and Clarkson become closer, physically and emotionally the screen is lit up by their chemistry.

The film, at the end of the day, is about friendship and finding that there is much more in the world than that which we have come to accept as our lot in life, and the decision we have to make whether to accept this, or try to change it.

A great film from director Ruda Nadda which conveys more in silence than it does in dialogue. Well worth a watch.

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