Cairo Time

Ruba Nadda’s new film Cairo Time is about an American magazine editor named “Juliette” (played by Patricia Clarkson) who travels to Cairo for a vacation with her husband “Mark” (Tom McCamus).  But Mark never shows up, throwing her into a romance with local man named “Tareq” (Alexander Siddig).

Altho Clarkson does a lovely job conveying the multiple emotions of a middle-aged woman suddenly on her own in strange circumstances, the film is a narrative mess, & I hated it.

But I’m guessing some people will think I don’t like Cairo Time mainly because of one very negative scene featuring Israelis, so let me confront this head on…


OK, still with me?  Mark supposedly works for the U.N. & the reason he’s not at the Cairo airport when Juliette arrives is because there’s some kind of unspecified “trouble in Gaza.”  So Juliette does her best to wait patiently for him in Cairo, hoping that the U.N. will only need him onsite at the refugee camp in Gaza for a few more days.  But more days pass and Mark is supposedly still in Gaza, so Juliette decides, quite impulsively of course, to go find Mark in Gaza, without planning this with him in advance.

Juliette boards the bus in Cairo (sitting next to a young woman with sad eyes who eventually involves her in yet another dead-end plot loop), & there they are, chatting away on the bus, when suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, they’re stopped by a group of Israeli soldiers.  The Israelis board the bus, rudely demand papers from all the passengers, & pull Juliette (& only Juliette) off the bus.  “This bus isn’t going anywhere,” the young Israeli commander barks, “Call someone to come pick you up.”  Cut to scene of Juliette & Tareq driving back to Cairo in the dead of night…

Excuse me, but just exactly where is this scene taking place?!?  In the middle of the Sinai Dessert?!?  My cynical conclusion: Mark’s only “in Gaza” so Nadda can insert a completely impossible scene beating up on Israelis for the Gaza blockade.  Sorry, Nadda.  The soldiers who patrol the Sinai now are all Egyptians; no Israelis would be anywhere in the vicinity until the bus arrived at a border crossing.

But, readers, let me be clear about this: my own “suspension of disbelief” had  dissipated long before Juliette unwisely boarded her ill-fated bus!

Oh, gag me with a spoon!

Tourist Fantasia: Strolling around the pyramids at sunset

with absolutely no other tourists anywhere in view.  Ha!

Photo Credit: Colm Hogan courtesy of IFC Films.

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    • Paladin
    • January 16, 2012

    I just watched Cairo Time on DVD, and I had wondered the same thing. But, after watching the DVD extras I came to the conclusion that although she may not be anti-semetic, she certainly has a highly romanticized westerized view of the Arab / Muslim culture and a definite anti Israel bias.

    I found it curious that in the first time Juliette ventures out by herself in Cairo, she is acosted by a mob of muslim males who obviously wanted sex from her and she literally had to run into a shop to escape, where an older gentleman then simply shooed them off. No harm no foul I guess. Then she continues to wander around oblivious as Arab women in Burquas glare and point at her in her summer dress, bare legs, and uncovered head, eventually ending up in Tariqs all male coffee shop where everyone again glares and frowns and she is again clueless util she is told what the problem is, and that Arab women go other places and do other things. (than sitting around smoking hooka’s and drinking coffee I guess) Later, she wanders into a Mosque during prayers and stands staring at the man leading the prayers, and no one reacts or asks her to move. My issue is we all know what would happen in the REAL Muslim / Arab world if a western female were to act this stupid and ignorantly.

    So Ms. Nadda has issues with how Israelies may possibly stop a bus at an imaginary checkpoint, but no issues with a woman almost being attacked and possibly raped, or the chauvinist Arab culture that makes women second class citizens? Like I said, she seems to have a romanticized view of her “culture” (seeing as how her parents left and she was born and raised in Canada) which is not based on the harsh reality the world knows.

    That’s my 2 cents worth.

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