Friday, February 11, 2011

Cairo Time

I watch many films and TV shows on my travels and they are usually fleeting - a brief pleasure soon forgotten. But once in a while I'll see a film that invades my heart and mind and such a film is Cairo Time.

The plot is a simple one - It is the story of a woman in her 40s in Cairo on her own. As she waits for her husband who works in Gaza and has been delayed she finds herself caught in a romance with his friend Tareq that is a surprise to both of them.

This film is entrancing because of the incredible beauty of every aspect of it's making. It's gentle, slow and subtle focusing on the grace and art Cairo life - the beauty of stonework, the music of the region, and simple pleasure of a cup of coffee. Ruba Nadda weaves Cairo life into the story as a character in itself in an unobtrusive way and only once uses the pyramids as a prop. She shows the beauty of the city and culture itself in minute detail.

Juliette has been married for a long time. Her children are gone and her husband works away. She is wan, lonely and disappointed as she starts her exploration but as her unexpected friendship with Tareq develops Juliette blossoms and emerges from her loneliness. She is a wonderful combination of naivete and determination, confidence and uncertainty. And as the relationship develops is it an enchanting experience of recognition and connection between two people. The final betrayal of her marriage is, like the film, subtle and thought provoking, and much more true to life than the usual movie fare. Patrician Clarkson and Alexander Siddig are a joy to watch in their craft.

I watched Cairo Time for the first time before the Egyptian revolution. Yesterday, as Egypt was on the brink, I watched it again and was more fascinated than ever. The film shows the beauty and the darkness of Cairo and today the beauty has a chance of being unleashed in a new period for Egypt as Mubarak has just announced he will step down.

I urge you to rent Cairo Time. Curl up in a comfortable chair and step into Ruba Nadda's subtle, courageous story telling. You will never forget it.

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