In the lead up to the 7th Canadian Film Festival in Australia (August 2012), join us as we countdown the Top 100 Canadian Films of the past 30 years. We'll be posting one film a day leading up to Canada Day on July 1st 2012. Do you agree with our staff favourites? Let us know your thoughts!
#87 - Cairo Time
Cairo Time is as much a love story about the titular city as it is of the two lead characters. Canadian director, Ruba Nadda, elegantly manages a juggling act between developing the blossoming romance of two unlikely lovers and taking the time to showcase the beauty, and some of the grittiness, of Cairo.
Patricia Clarkson is Juliette Grant: an American woman who has come to the Middle East to visit her husband, an employee of the United Nations, currently working on a refugee camp in Gaza. Tareq, played by Alexander Siddig, is a retired police officer and, not surprisingly, a friend of her husband, making their affair that much more complicated. When asked if she’d like to see the pyramids Juliette repeatedly laments that she and her significant other are, “going to see them together,” but finds herself continually abandoned as her husband remains out of town on the job. Enter, Tareq. From the moment he picks Juliette up from the airport their chemistry is palpable and only grows as they spend more time together as he takes her on a journey through the city.
At times the pace is almost too slow and lingers for an uncomfortably long time on shots of Juliette who, with her almost translucent complexion and permanent frown, seems steeped in unhappiness. There is only one clear moment when she smiles. At first this is aggravating; but after the film’s close the power of Nadda’s shot choice and Clarkson’s subdued performance click and create a lasting impact.
The beauty of Cairo is impressively showcased in scenes that span the arid desert, the mountains, local markets, and breathtaking, lush landscapes. The juxtaposition of some ugly behavior (such as when a group of boys inappropriately check out and follow Juliette, or when she is stared at in the streets because of her starkly different foreign appearance) with the gorgeous scenery strangely punctuates rather than taints Cairo’s magical quality. Nadda refreshingly provides a frank, honest picture of the culture as a whole.
Buoyed by an affecting story, spot-on performances, and stunning visuals, Cairo Time is a beautifully crafted film that will have you wanting to book the next flight to Egypt. The ending is perhaps the most poignant moment of the film and will have you wanting to know more.
"It's a haunting and hypnotic film. And Clarkson's sublimely nuanced performance is in every way transporting." - (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
To see the other films in the countdown so far, click here.