On Saturday, I went to SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) for the first time, and for only $5 because I have Teen Tix. The film I had the privilege of viewing was Cairo Time, directed by Ruba Nadda, and it was the best movie I have seen all year.
Cairo Time is the story of a middle-aged woman, played by the breathtakingly gorgeous Patricia Clarkson, who goes to Cairo to vacation with her UN-employed husband, but he gets stuck on assignment in Gaza. She finds herself alone in an unfamiliar metropolis of millions but for the company of affable Tareq (the excellent Sudanese-British actor Alexander Siddig), her husband’s former colleague. The two form a relationship, and what comes out of it is most honest, beautiful, heartbreaking romance I have seen in ages.
In a world of clichéd romantic dramas, this was a breath of fresh air. I fell in love with the characters and the beauty of Cairo and felt truly emotionally invested (which memorably hasn’t happened to me since I did this during Titanic last year). So many of the lines still stick with me, as do the interactions between the characters. Everything about their love was so subtle, forcing us to truly pay attention and leaving us hungry for more. It’s hard for me to put my admiration into words; just writing this review makes me want to revisit the characters. The movie is never too art house and unrelatable or tired and Hollywood — it shows us love’s many forms. Watching it, I ached for the time when love in movies was actually ROMANTIC.
The immensely talented director was in the audience and took our questions after the uproarious applause. As a Canadian with a Syrian father and Palestinian mother, she first visited Cairo when she was 16 and fell in love with it, easily translating her passion into film. She filmed totally on site in the city; the first North American movie to do so.
Cairo Time will be released nationwide on August 6, and I implore you to go see it. You first heard it from me: it is the first movie to hearken back to the perfectly acted classics of the 1950s, but with an added spritz of desert sand. I hope this movie ushers in a new era of truthful, inspiring romances. While the film gives us an honest but loving snapshot of the Middle East and amazing imagery of Egypt, what glues it together is the pure romance of Juliette and Tareq — a timeless movie couple if there ever was one.
–Margaret, Teen Center Advisor, 16