Cairo Time


Cairo Time

Critics Consensus

Though potentially too slowly paced for some, Cairo Time lingers long after the closing credits, largely due to a wonderful performance by Patricia Clarkson.



Total Count: 79


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,864
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Movie Info

Juliette (Patricia Clarkson), a magazine editor, travels to Cairo to meet her husband, Mark (Tom McCamus), a UN official working in Gaza, for a three week vacation. When he is unavoidably delayed, he sends his friend Tareq (Alexander Siddig), who had been his security officer for many years, to escort her throughout the beautiful and exotic city. The last thing anyone expects is that they will fall in love. Cairo Time is a love letter to a city intertwined with a love story about a woman. It began when Syrian-Canadian writer/director Ruba Nadda first visited Cairo with her family many years ago. Returning a decade ago with one of her sisters, (and no longer under the protective eye of her father) they had memorable adventures. "The city was beautiful and the people were beautiful," Nadda recalled. Having lived in Damascus, and subsequently traveled the world, Nadda never forgot the grandeur and the chaos of this ancient city that was originally settled in Paleolithic times. Sitting at the border of what was once Upper and Lower Egypt, the area that was to become the metropolis of Cairo has played host to the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, the Ottomans, Napoleon, and the British and is now one of the most densely populated cities in the world. "I remember the city being alive. It's gritty and historical and seething with humanity and I just had to capture it on screen." Truly, a journey through Cairo is a journey through time and it awakens your soul. It was during Nadda's many trips to international film festivals with her 14 short films and her previous feature, Sabah, that she came to appreciate the feelings of introspection and melancholy that traveling alone engenders. From these experiences came Cairo Time, something Nadda deems a "real love story, but one that is very un-West because to me the West is about acquiring, accomplishing, deadlines and running, running, running. The central character, Juliette, is suddenly forced to slow down and move on Cairo time." This film has a West-meets-East quality to the unexpected, unrequited love between an Arab man and a North American woman. It's also a throw to old style, classic films reminiscent of the restrained, emotional tension in the work of Jane Austen. Juliette is a woman who married young and still ardently loves her husband, Mark, who works abroad. Their children have grown up and moved away. Life, doing what it usually does to a marriage, has replaced their hopes and dreams with accomplishment and responsibilities. In the back of her head, Juliette had thought that sooner or later, she and her husband would have time for each other, which was the reason for her trip to Cairo. "I love this woman," explained Nadda. "She is quiet. And she has a sadness that's just under the surface which comes from a lifetime of being by herself a lot because she's been stood up by a husband whose work has often taken priority." Unable to meet Juliette when she lands, but knowing that she is an independent woman who is likely to head off on her own, Mark asks Tareq to care for her. For years, Mark had trusted Tareq with his own life, so it made sense to extend that trust to Juliette's wellbeing. Once at the hotel, Juliette is alone again. Unwilling to wait quietly for her husband's arrival, every effort she makes to venture out on her own is rebuffed. Cairo is not a gentle city. With a population of 17 million, the noise is unbearable. The heat, mixed with dust, is oppressive. Traffic does not adhere to lanes or stop lights. And women, particularly foreigners, do not easily move about in public alone. Quickly, Juliette learns that the simple activities of everyday living in Canada, like walking across the street, become a test of wills in Cairo. And so she turns to Tareq who shows her first, Cairo, and then herself. -- (C) Official Site


Elena Anaya
as Kathryn
Amina Annabi
as Yasmeen
Mona Hala
as Jameelah
Mohamed Abdel Fattah
as Customs Officer
Nabil Shazli
as Manager
Ahmed Ghareeb Hanafi
as Propositioning Man
Mohamoud El Gazar
as Shoe Shopkeeper
Katie Sherif
as Petroleum Wife #1
Michelle Power
as Petroleum Wife #2
Sarah Farouk Ahmed
as Petroleum Wife #3
as Abu Hamedi
as Caucasian Man
Robert Pandini
as Italian Man
Mariam Mikiwi
as Italian Woman
Ahmed Abu Seda
as Winking Arab Man
Sherif Attira
as Internet Man
Khouloud Kamel
as Suha (8 Year Old Girl)
Heba Hammad
as Young Chambermaid
Mohamed Shahin
as Israeli Soldier
Esraa Atef-El Shenawy
as Young Carpet Weaver
Ibrahim Salah
as Israeli Officer
Amr Abul Nasr
as Male Party Goer #1
as Female Party Goer #1
as Female Party Goer #2
Nader Basyouni
as Male Party Goer #2
Radi Ali Ahmed
as Call to Prayer Imam
Tarek Hariri
as Bus Driver
Miso Kontrec
as Stunt Scooter Driver
Eman El Nagar
as Female Stunt Driver
as Ukrainian Belly Dancer
Mariam Aboul Magd
as Young Blushing Girl
Hesham Saleh
as Young Greenskeeper
Mohamed Waleed
as Carpet Shop Owner
as Cartouche Shopkeeper
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Critic Reviews for Cairo Time

All Critics (79) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (15)

Audience Reviews for Cairo Time

  • Feb 24, 2013
    A tasteful and engaging romantic drama, A beautifully crafted piece of work that shines with wonderful character development and gorgeous scenery. A stunning, mature and wonderfully romantic film. Director, Ruba Nadda crafts a remarkably adult love story that hits all the right notes and leaves on an open note that anything could happen. Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig are outstanding, their chemistry is just golden. A gem of a film. A well-produced Canadian picture.
    Al S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2012
    Fancy a little trip abroad? You could do worst than this sweet gem about an American woman who gets to see Cairo through the eyes of the people who live there. At first I thought it moved slowly. By the time I realised that, no, I was watching too fast, it was over and, like any good vacation, over too quickly. The leads submit intelligent, nuanced, adult performances and the experience should resonate for some time. And then you go to the Pyramids.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2011
    The performances of Alexander Siddig and Patricia Clarkson are the best reason to watch the film. They shine on screen and have a great on screen chemistry in the film. The film kind of reminded me of movies like Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Bridges of Madison County, One Day, and A Passage to India. The cinematography was really good in the film. The pacing was off though. I do recommend the film cause of the performances of Clarkson and Siddig.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • May 19, 2011
    Plot: Patricia Clarkson (Joan) plays the wife of a U.N. worker who comes to Egypt with the anticipation that her husband will be there to greet her. Unfortunately her husband is unable to break away from the conflict of his work to join his wife and so she is left alone. He sends instead his close friend. Alexander Siddig (Tariq) to meet her and Tariq becomes her guide and her friend. To some extent the movie is about a woman traveling alone in an Islamic country, her own vulnerability in the face of on-street harassment as a white woman in an Egyptian world, the subtle development of a friendship between two temporarily lonely persons mixed in with an exotic environment and the cultural differences that both attract her and some which threaten her. Will this friendship lead to something more? Watch it to find out.
    Deb S Super Reviewer

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