'Mark warned me about wandering the streets alone. Men keep following me.’‘You’re a beautiful woman.’
Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) is a stressed, middle-aged, married woman from Canada. She edits a magazine while her husband works abroad for long stretches in Gaza. Tareq (Alexander Siddig) is a bourgeois café owner who plays chess, smokes Cleopatras and never recovered from a broken heart in his student days in Damascus. When Juliette comes to Cairo to for a dream holiday with her husband and finds he’s still stuck in Palestine, she turns to her husband’s Egyptian ex-colleague.
Cairo Time, 2009, dir. Rubba Nada, 2009
Of course there are a million different versions of any big city, and I’m not surprised that this world of luxury Zamalek hotels and tense, hot, autumn-leaves romance is a million miles from the Cairo I know. But this film takes a woman and makes her incapable of facing ‘the Orient’ without a male protector. Juliette wanders the streets for a morning before the sexual harassment drives her to seek out Tareq again, and from then on he becomes her guide, her protector, and inevitably her lover.