Sometimes the visual medium that is film consumes an idea to a point where there is nothing else left. In Cairo Time, a tell of romance falls victim to such fate. Starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig, Cairo Time is eye-pleasing and runs like an extended episode of a show you'd watch on the Travel Channel.
As Juliette, Clarkson plays a woman venturing to Egypt to see her husband who works for the United Nations. Once there, Juliette is greeted by her husband's assistant, Tareq (Siddig), a tall gangly, mysterious man who's demeanor and pride are consistent. As Tareq becomes Juliette's official tour guide to the wondrous and warm city of Cairo, it soon becomes apparent the subtleties of a potential affair.
Enraptured in loneliness as work demands more time of her husband and he is unable to get away. Juliette, strong-willed and independent, decides to venture out and explore the culture of Egypt, which at times plays like a ridiculous nightmare more than a few awkward moments, which in turns gives Cairo Time a rather weakened viewpoint on the cultural differences in regard to how women are viewed in Egypt. As she waits to take in the infamous pyramid tenements with her absent husband, Tareq fills in the emotional space, and so it begins.
This is when we're left to take in why Patricia Clarkson has been nominated for an Oscar, relying heavily on the unspoken and more so on the actions of her character, an exploration both pleasant and subtle. As Tareq, Siddig is charming and relaxed, but some of his lines sound like inquisitions posed by a CNN reporter rather than a man overtaken by a woman clearly intriguing to him. Cairo time has moments of beauty and unmistakable clarity, but loses some of its strength when the romance is swallowed by what seems to be a relentless ode to the Middle East. Beauty is abound amongst the densely populated sections of Cairo and we see plenty, but then we're introduced to a subplot never fully explained (see when Juliette decides to surprise her husband by traveling to Gaza) and it becomes less satisfying.
For those craving adventure and love in their lives Cairo Time may leave you feeling as though you only took part in the adventure portion.
This film is playing at Midtown cinema http://www.midtowncinema.com