Cairo Time Review
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Theater marquees and video store shelves are always loaded with sappy romances and silly chick flicks—but it’s rare find a love story that’s as beautiful or as real as the sweet, simple story found in writer/director Ruba Nadda’s heartfelt drama, Cairo Time.

Patricia Clarkson stars as Juliette Grant, a Canadian journalist who travels to Cairo to visit her husband, Mark (Tom McCamus), a UN official working in Gaza. When she arrives, though, she finds that Mark has been delayed in Gaza, so he’s sent his good friend, Tareq (Alexander Siddig), to accompany her as she makes her way through the unfamiliar city.

As she waits for her husband, Juliette takes in the beauty of Cairo while adapting to its customs with help from her thoughtful and dependable companion. And while they explore the city together, they’re surprised to find themselves falling in love.

  
 
Actually, though, Cairo Time tells two love stories: the one between Juliette and Tareq and the one between the director and her film’s exquisite setting. Nadda clearly fell in love with Egypt—and her passion comes through in almost every frame. Throughout the film, she underscores the striking beauty of each exotic locale—from the Juliette’s hotel to the breathtaking White Desert to the majestic pyramids. Her characters take leisurely boat rides down the Nile, sip coffee in an outdoor café, and explore the bustling markets—accompanied by a soundtrack filled with Egyptian music. By the time the film comes to its end, you’re sure to share Nadda’s passion for this stunning location (and you’ll be quick to add Egypt to your list of places to visit).

As for the other love story, it isn’t the kind that you typically find in films—with two characters falling passionately into each other’s arms with wild abandon. Instead, both characters are intelligent and mature, and they fully understand their situation. He’s a Muslim man who lives in Egypt; she’s a happily married woman who lives thousands of miles away. Theirs isn’t a simple relationship—and it’s handled both tenderly and sincerely. In fact, very little happens, allowing the story to be told through subtle exchanges and brief glances. But the two actors have such easy-going chemistry that you’ll be pulled into their story, savoring each quietly touching moment.

For those who enjoy the typical fiery romances, though, Cairo Time may seem painfully slow. After all, this isn’t a Hollywood romance; it’s more genuine and realistic. But if you give it a chance, you may just find yourself moved by its honesty and maturity.

Cairo Time is beautifully understated love story, a fascinating cultural experience, and a stunning travelogue. It’s also one of the most enchanting romances you’ll see this year.

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