Cairo Time Ruba Nadda

Cairo Time Ruba Nadda
Following the trailer for Love & Savagery on the Cairo Time DVD, there's a commercial for Mercedes-Benz that cannot be skipped or fast-forwarded. Sidetracking the trendy white noise horror of consumerism infiltrating the arts, this is a surprisingly cynical, shrewd and genius marketing placement, given that the film is about a privileged white woman travelling to an issue-ridden country, becoming "aware," experiencing beauty and romance, and then coming home safely. Surely someone got a giggle out of this ironic demographic slight. It's just a shame that it partially denigrates a pleasant, if pretentious and laden with clunky, groan-inducing dialogue, film that features some inspired moments and wonderfully restrained romantic tension. Vouz editor Juliette Grant (Patricia Clarkson) travels to Egypt to meet with her husband Mark (Tom McCamus), only to find him tied up with UN work in Gaza. While waiting anxiously, she develops a friendship with Tareq (Alexander Siddig), a family friend sent by Mark to make sure his wife was taken care of. While romance sparks between the pair, writer/director Ruba Nadda isn't interested in modern conventions and exaggerated melodrama, focusing instead on the intensity of eye contact and body language, along with the power of the unspoken. As written, both characters are rather flimsy, acting as amiable ciphers for the respective cultures. Fortunately, Clarkson injects a quiet intellect and occasional passive-aggressive flare into Juliette, while Siddig gives his wounded bachelor archetype a sense of smug superiority, humanizing the pair significantly. It is the silence and wonder of characters interpreting and appreciating their environment that gives Cairo Time its charm, partly making up for the dreadful, often political, verbiage. Included with the DVD is a director's commentary track, along with a brief "Making of," which is essentially Ruba Nadda talking about her intentions and her experiences shooting in Egypt. (Mongrel Media)