CAIRO TIME

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An American magazine editor (Patricia Clarkson) goes to Cairo to visit her husband (Tom McCamus), but he’s delayed, so he sends a local friend (Alexander Siddig) to show her the sites. I really, really wanted to like this film (written & directed by Ruba Nadda), but alas, beautiful travelogue cinematography can’t save poorly-constructed & ultimately predicable plot.

*****

                                    Penny Rants On… 

OK, so we went to see Cairo Time together on Saturday night.  Rich (seeing it for the first time) kinda sorta liked it; me (seeing for the second time), I hated it even more.  A long discussion ensued over dinner.  Turns out all Rich really liked was Patricia Clarkson.  He found her performance truly touching, & OK, yes, I agree with him about that.

     Clarkson is a terrific actress & she does a lovely job of conveying “Juliette’s” multiple contradictions.  She arrives in Cairo expecting much-needed time with husband “Mark.”  It’s not just a vacation; there’s also been some family upset that has her on edge.  So when Mark does not come to meet her at the airport, Juliette is flooded with emotions: disappointment (because he’s not there); annoyance (because yet again something in his life is more important than she is); confusion (who is this guy “Tareq” anyway); & exhaustion (because of her family problems).

     And as days pass without Mark (altho I’m still not sure how many), Clarkson has lots of time to depict an even broader set of emotions: reconciliation (because she realizes she’s on her own for awhile); curiosity (because she’s someplace exciting & she’s never been there before); repulsion (because aspects of the culture, like women wearing heavy veils in oppressive heat, offend her modern sensibilities); anger (because Mark is taking advantage of her attempts to be patient);  etc, etc.  And all the time, of course, she’s spending increasing amounts of time with Tareq–an extremely handsome & courtly man who’s not only mysteriously available but also willing (& able) to meet her every need…

     And so now I’m back to hating it again, because the plot is totally artifical & almost none of the dialogue rings true to me.  As much as we both love Alexander Siddig (who was terrific in Syriana & has been a favorite of ours since Deep Space Nine days), Nadda as screenwriter hasn’t spent enough time creating a believeable character for him to play.  Siddig is certainly pretty, just like all the rest of Cairo’s tourist traps, but pretty gets awfully boring after awhile, especially when you’re absolutely sure, halfway thru, that you know exactly how all this will end.  

Click HERE for FF2 Haiku.

*****

So nu: what about those Israelis, Tzivi…?

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