PATRICIA CLARKSON ALEXANDER SIDDIG
For those of us paying attention, Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson has become one of the most fascinating marvels on screen for the past decade. While her name might not jump out at you, her long list of supporting film roles will: The Green Mile, The Station Agent, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and her Oscar nominated performance in Pieces of April. Clarkson for the first time takes the lead role in a film that is similar in concept to Bridges of Madison County. For some the slow pace and character development won’t hold enough interest, but for others who enjoy watching people interact and explore Cairo Time is a fascinating film.
Visiting Cairo, Egypt for the first time on vacation with her husband Mark who works for the UN in Gaza, Juliette (Clarkson) finds herself unoccupied when he is delayed. A journalist from the states, Juliette is restless and begins to explore the dangerous city with Tareq (Siddig) a longtime friend of her husband. They float in the Nile River, attend a wedding, even play chess in Tareq’s male only café among many spectators. Juliette’s solo city walks don’t turn out as pleasant, as young men stare and provoke her due to her light skin and uncovered legs. The more time Juliette spends with Tareq the more she begins to forget the reason she came to Cairo in the first place.
Soft spoken and imaginative eyes are just two of Clarkson’s features she often puts to use in her portrayals. Clarkson acts so much with her poise and body language that she says just as much with her actions as she does with her unforgettable raspy voice. Cairo Time is written and directed by Ruba Nadda who is very well known in the Canadian director’s circle. The film’s editing is somewhat choppy and probably the least eloquent item about the film. However with Cairo’s smoggy atmosphere and dangerous culture (Nadda as nearly arrested during the making of the film) this is one of the most unlikely love story portraits.
In many romance films we see the stereotypical Hollywood pairing of two opposite characters; here Tareq and Juliette seem to be on the same mild and meek personality scale. The famous Egyptian pyramids are used as a symbol of intimacy between the characters; Juliette promises to wait for her husband before visiting them. There are few romances that make it onto the big screen, and even fewer of those that take the material seriously. As mainstream cinema is plagued by the ever nauseating romantic comedy (the farthest thing from realistic love stories) films like Cairo Time remind us that the idea of enjoyable and well acted dramatic and realistic stories of love still exist.
Final Thought – Clarkson’s performance is pure subtle brilliance.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih