Posted: 11/30/2010


Cairo Time

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Cairo Time is a sweeping romantic drama that shows the landscape and beauty of Cairo Egypt while telling the story of an American national on assignment in Cairo, whose wife comes to visit, only to find that she won’t be able to see her husband. She spends the bulk of her trip being chaperoned by one of her husband’s associates, and with time they develop feelings for one another.

Cairo Time stars Academy award nominee Patricia Clarkson and is written and directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Ruba Nadda. This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD November 30 and has been a crowd pleaser at film fests across the world, including the Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals.

Clarkson plays Juliette, a fashion magazine editor who has forgotten just how beautiful and intelligent she is, and Alexander Siddig as Tareq, the trusted friend of Juliette’s husband. Tareq owns a coffee shop, and they both forge a friendship while touring the sights, sounds and unique customs of the exotic city of Cairo. Juliette seems like such a sweet, innocent, unassuming woman who is a bit pre-occupied with the conditions upon which her husband is being detained. Tareq is a kind escort, with no untoward intentions initially.

Juliette goes effortlessly across the countryside, sometimes on her own, but mostly in the company of Tareq, who even allows her into the men-only café, much to the dismay of the other male customers.
Juliette even reaches out to a stranger after sitting next to his pregnant girlfriend while on a bus to a neighboring area. There is much suspense, as the bus is stopped and Juliette is ordered off. The armed soldiers tell her to call someone to come pick her up. Tareq warns her that she shouldn’t stick her nose in other’s business, but she is adamant about passing the note along, unread to the young woman’s suitor.

Finally, Juliette is reunited with her husband, just about the time she is scheduled to go back to the United States, but definitely right before she and Tareq crossed a line from which neither of then would be able to easily return.

“A haunting and hypnotic film..Clarkson’s sublimely nuanced performance is in every way transporting,” says Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

I enjoyed this movie, as I admire Clarkson’s talent as an actress. Being swept up in the beauty of Egypt and the storyline just added to the enjoyment. IFC Films and Chicago-based MPI Media Group offer Cairo Time on two formats: Blu-ray and DVD. Both versions include the following special features: trailer, alternate ending, director commentary, making of featurertte, Toronto Film Festival Q & A and Short Films by writer/director Ruba Nadda. For more information, visit and search for title.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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