By Jeffrey M. Anderson (reprinted from 5/2/10 -- San Francisco Int'l. Film Festival)
Ruba Nadda's gorgeous Cairo Time -- which won Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto Film Festival -- will no doubt be compared to Lost in Translation and Before Sunset, delicate tales of dislocated souls who find solace in other, equally dislocated souls, usually in a foreign land. Usually these people are already married, or at least come with complicated baggage, but it's this wistful yearning, this sense of tragedy and lost time that makes these kinds of movies special. Cairo Time is definitely the least of the three movies, mainly because it never trusts itself enough to get truly lost. Yet, even in its careful hesitation, it finds a kind of grace.
Cairo Time has three stars: the luminous Patricia Clarkson, the lanky, gentle Alexander Siddig ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and Syriana), and the city of Cairo itself, sprawled out around and between them at every moment. It's one of those movies in which the very air -- its smells and warmth -- seems to emanate from the screen. The movie is almost a travelogue, except that director Nadda is smart enough to include glimpses of the city's ugliness as well as its beauty, as well as acknowledging the uneasy, necessary balance between the two. It's a movie of moments, good ones and bad ones, all coming one after another, just like life.