CAIRO TIME (2009)


 Greetings again from the darkness. I am as intrigued and fascinated by the mysteries of Egypt as most. Seeing the majestic monuments from the past still standing is remarkable and awe-inspiring. Not so awe-inspiring are the dusty road and crowded streets and walk ways of Cairo. Unfortunately, writer/director Ruba Nadda provides much more of the latter than the former.

This is supposed to be an intimate tale of charm and love in the mesmerizing city of Cairo. Instead, it’s a torturously slow moving train to nowhere. The two lead characters, Tareq and Juliette, are well played by Alexander Siddig and Patricia Clarkson. Unfortunately, they are not supported by a worthy script. Where was the connection between these two? She makes no effort to contact him until she “needs” him after being accosted on the street … where Caucasian women just don’t walk alone.

I was amazed at how this magazine journalist was so clueless on the way of life in a city she was to visit for 3 weeks. Tareq was more of a tour guide, who also happened to be a lonely heart – whether for Juliette or the “love of his life” who reappears. It seemed he could go either way, if not for the cultural disrespect shown to a widow.

The driving force seems to be Ms. Nadda’s obsession with romance between a Muslim and non-Muslim. If that’s the case, the film desperately needed more insight into the cultural and religious differences. Instead what we get is a woman who, on one hand, is willing to risk a dangerous trip to find her “missing husband” and, on the other, teetering on whether to toss him aside for a new found tour guide.

I found little of this believable or rewarding. More substance was needed in the story and the “relationship” between these two. I enjoy nuanced romance very much when it makes sense (see The Remains of the Day). I also enjoy political thrillers where a wife refuses to give up her search for her husband (see Missing). What I don’t enjoy are movies that think they have earned the right to be considered important just because they start with an interesting premise.

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