May 21, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 02 September 2010 13:17
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch with their children. This week’s pick is a new film, Cairo Time.The wonder of “what might have been” has filled many movies over the years, from Katherine Hepburn’s bittersweet visit to Venice in Summertime to Deborah Kerr’s ill-fated devotion to Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember. These classics make the most of showing beautiful scenery while investing in the souls of interesting characters. The results, for all of us, are luminous and lasting.
The lovely new film Cairo Time is reminiscent of such marvelous classics in its tender topic, charismatic characters and beautiful background landscape. In a year when so many films have said so little, this exploration of a woman’s journey into a new dimension of her life speaks volumes in an efficient 90 minutes. Along the way, as well, it offers a fine travelogue of the beautiful scenery of North Africa.
Patricia Clarkson, a captivating actress best remembered for Pieces of April and Far From Heaven¸ delivers a most interesting performance as a successful, but lonely married woman who travels to Cairo to visit her husband, a diplomat for the UN. From the start, however, the trip doesn’t go well for this most organized lady. Her husband is off saving a part of the world, leaving her alone and vulnerable in an unfamiliar place. As she struggles to learn a new routine, she becomes fascinated by a man who once worked with her husband. Much to this lady’s surprise, the new friend opens her mind, touches her heart and challenges the familiar patterns of her life.
Clarkson is an authentic, thoughtful performer who uses each gesture and expression as magically as she delivers dialogue. Much of the performance, actually, is internal, as we “read” the character’s thoughts through Clarkson’s nonverbal clues. Her reactions when frightened on a bus ride, or when first embarking on a walking tour of the city, perfectly capture the character’s fears about adventure; her closing moments, as she confronts the reality in her life, speak volumes with virtually no dialogue.
Cairo Time also offers a fascinating view of the city and its culture, both of which are painted in alluring ways by director Ruba Nadda. Visually, the film is a feast of color and image, capturing the beauty of the city and surrounding areas. Culturally, the film connects many distinctive qualities of day-to-day life in Cairo to the lead character’s emotional journey. As she confronts the change in her view of the world, she becomes more intrigued with the change in what she sees outside her window. And her world will never look or feel the same.
Adding to the rich texture of the film are a number of thoughtful supporting performances that form a rich canvas. Writer Nadda, fortunately, scripts the film to let the characters evolve naturally; director Nadda, smartly, lets the action take place at its own pace, never forcing a moment, frequently lingering with a gentle pause. The story and characters perfectly fit into the 90-minute running time.
How refreshing, at the end of a hot summer, for a highly entertaining film for adults to capture our attention. Cairo Time is a marvelous diversion for parents before the end of the season.
Film Nutritional Value:
* Content: High. The lead character’s journey reminds us that, no matter how predictable a life may become, there’s always room for surprise.
* Entertainment: High. The film efficiently balances its message with a good sense of fun.
* Message: High. For adults, the film offers a chance to look in the mirror, take stock, and appreciate what all we may take for granted.
* Relevance: High. Again, for adults, the experiences of the film are accessible and relevant. Older children, however, may find themselves restless.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: Medium. For older children, the glimpse into day-to-day life in Cairo may fascinate; but they may not relate to the “what might have been” nature of the central relationship.
4 Popcorn Buckets
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