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‘Cairo Time’ Reviews From TIFF

Cairo Time screened for journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival and the reviews are looking good. Here are reviews that mention Sid specifically.

From the Torontoist:

Cairo Time (Ruba Nadda)

One would expect Cairo Time to be something out of the hackneyed “middle-aged lady travels to exotic location and has an affair that rejuvenates her life” genre. Luckily, it’s not that at all. Certainly it’s a romantic picture: cinematographer Luc Montpelier uses the hot Cairo daytime to good effect, offsetting large chunks of the film in a haze that accentuates the mutual attraction between Juliette and her husband’s friend Tareq. But it’s not a movie about a grand romantic adventure: it’s a movie about dealing with the gradual discomfort of not being home and how one deals with it—its chief emotion is restraint, not abandon. Juliette loves her husband and Tareq respects his friend; there is never a moment where the will-they-won’t-they battle is decisively won, one way or the other, until almost the very end. Patricia Clarkson as Juliette manages the rare trick of making a potential betrayal of a perfectly workable and solid marriage sympathetic, but Alexander Siddig as Tareq betters it—he adeptly captures every nuance of inner conflict. It’s just a staggeringly good performance, and it should make everybody wonder why Siddig doesn’t get more work. It’s a slight film in terms of plot, but as an actor’s showcase you can’t do much better. 4/5

From the Toronto Star:


A beautifully acted and photographed story of two people trying very hard not to fall in love with each other during an enforced stay in Cairo. Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig bring untold layers of emotion to what is really Brief Encounter at the pyramids. Director Ruba Nadda somehow wraps it all up in an atmosphere of mysterious longing.

From Reel Film:

Cairo Time follows an American magazine writer (Patricia Clarkson’s Juliette) as she arrives in Cairo hoping to spend some time with her husband, though his ongoing work-related absence ultimately forces Juliette to see the sights with a friendly local named Tareq (Alexander Siddig). Director Ruba Nadda does a superb job of luring the viewer into the proceedings almost instantly, as the filmmaker effectively captures the inherent chaos and sleaziness of the titular city – yet it’s just as clear that the awe-inspiring visuals and Nadda’s emphasis on seriously scenic locales inevitably ensures that the film comes off as an unexpectedly captivating travelogue. The plot, which is certainly as thin as one could possibly envision, exists primarily as a springboard for Juliette‘s continuing escapades in and around Cairo, with her back-and-forth banter with Siddig’s character establishing itself as a highlight within the proceedings virtually from the get-go – as Clarkson and Siddig offer up compelling, thoroughly ingratiating work that draws the viewer into even the most seemingly inconsequential of their encounters (ie the two share a nighttime cruise around the Nile river). Siddig’s effortlessly magnetic performance is nothing short of a revelation, as the actor – best known for his role on Deep Space Nine – more than holds his own opposite an equally affecting Clarkson and cements his place as the film’s secret weapon early on. The end result is a very low-key, very charming little movie that’s as delightful as it is entertaining, with the touching (and unexpectedly heartbreaking) conclusion ensuring that Cairo Time lingers in one’s mind long after the end credits have rolled.

out of

From The Gate:

Cairo Time, dir Ruba Nadda, with Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Tom McCamus

Behind The Scenes: Although shot entirely in Egypt, this is a Canadian funded and produced film. Some may recognize Canadian actor Tom McCamus from several of his roles in the films of Atom Egoyan. Many will recognize British-raised Alexander Siddig from his 7-year-stint on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (then billed as Siddig El Fadil), but also from his more prominent roles in Hollywood blockbusters such as Syriana and Kingdom of Heaven.

Story: Juliette (Clarkson) is in Cairo to visit her husband who has been away for many months on a UN mission, but due to conflicts is unavailable, and sends his colleague and trusted friend Tareq (Siddig) to keep her company and show her around. Cultural clashes and mutual understanding blossom into a friendship, and then something more.

Reality: What’s fascinating here is the non-sexuality of this transnational love affair. There’s no heated passion, not even any forbidden hand-holding or kisses. Director Nadda has crafted a story that shows not all love-affairs are based on sex. This is one of emotion and quiet respect. The city of Cairo is as much a character here as the people involved. The Nile, the Pyramids, the hooka bars, the bustling markets, and the jewellery shops all have their significant roles to play. And the colourful Cairo city-scape adds a high-gloss sheen to a film already loaded with substance.

Verdict: Don’t miss it!

We’ll update this post as more reviews are published.

Updated 09.13.09 @ 8:25AM

About Mel

Mel started a fan site for Siddig in 1996, as a way to learn HTML and to promote his charitable endeavors. In 1998, he proposed that it become his official fan site; she quickly agreed and a long-distance friendship was born. You can reach Mel at mel[at]sidcity[dot]net.

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