Thursday, 16 September 2010

Patricia Clarkson is Luminous (and other musings on Cairo Time)

It’s strange; the effect a single actor can have on the outcome of an entire film is sometimes unsettling. The first word that comes to mind in relation to Cairo Time, a love story but not so much, is sanguine. Not irrepressibly cheerful but certainly not dour. I’m not even sure love story is the right way to categorise, though it’s the most logical. Juliette is in Cairo Time for the first time. Her husband works with the UN and her children have grown up – they don’t need her anymore. She runs a women’s magazine about social issues and hopes to take a vacation with her husband in Cairo, but he’s held up in Gaza and she must remain in Cairo alone. Here, she forges an odd bond with a former worker of her husband Tareq.
Trying to assess its individual strengths it’s a difficult to say why Cairo Time works. It’s not overly inventive with its plot and though the cinematography is beautiful it doesn’t attempt to be conspicuous. Perhaps, it’s the simple fact that Cairo Time has simple intentions that makes the end product something strangely satisfying. Of course, Patricia is the film’s mainstay. Perhaps more than a love-story, it’s a coming age (albeit at a very late age), and really there’s not stringent way to say what “coming” of age occurs. We’re not supposed to, though. Cairo Time is content to chronicle a few moments in the city with Juliette, and though there’s no ulterior motive there’s a whole lot that’s going under the surface. Juliette is not unhappy, but she's not happy either. There seems to be nothing amiss in her life or marriage, and perhaps that's the problem. She spends so much time seeing emotionless, but not listless. It's a thin line, Patty treads it beautifully.
It’s all very subtle with Cairo Time, just like with Patricia’s performance. The plot-points and the climax doesn’t occur with resounding choruses or grand sequences, it’s all very simple and as close to the mundane reality of life. Yet, the film itself is never mundane. It’s beautifully crafted, backed by a lovely score and anchored by Patty front and centre (a rarity). Here’s someone who needs more leading roles, because really she turns the simple goodness of Cairo Time into something that’s just beautiful, in its weird assuming way.
           
B (A- for Patty)

5 comments:

Robert said...

I love Patricia Clarkson! She steals everything she's in. I'm going to have to check this out since you speak so highly of it.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

robert if you like patty i don't see you not liking this.

Castor said...

Patricia Clarkson is such a strong performer every single time she is on-camera. I might check out this movie if only for her :)

Burning Reels said...

Hmmm I was mulling over whether to watch this sometime and as another fellow Patty Clarkson fan, I'm now sold...

Luke said...

Amen to her getting more lead roles... though I feel as though she sort of shines as the supporting player more often than not... This flick definitely divided me - Clarkson was great as usual, but there was no pull in either direction in terms of plot flow and that sort of wore on me a bit...