Patricia Clarkson plays Juliette, a New York magazine editor who arrives in Cairo in order to enjoy a much-needed vacation with her husband, a UN employee overseeing a refugee camp in Gaza. When hubby is delayed for several days because of work, a bored Juliette finds company in the only person she knows in the city: her husband's former colleague Tareq, played by Arab-British actor Alexander Siddig (best known for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
Cairo Time is basically Before Sunrise for the over-45 set, as Juliette and Tareq are drawn closer together despite the many barriers keeping them from taking things too far. Strangely, I've become a sucker for middle-aged romances such as Remains of the Day, The Visitor, even Last Chance Harvey. I guess I like them because they are subtle emotional dramas in which veteran actors who are so often relegated to supporting parts really shine when given the chance to play the romantic lead.
Cairo Time isn't perfect - there's an awkward pacing in several scenes between Clarkson and Siddig, which Arab-Canadian writer/director Ruba Nadda should have tightened, and so little happens in the story that one might get bored - but the actors have some lovely moments together (the final shot of Siddig is heartbreaking), Irish composer Niall Byrne's score is terrific, and Cairo is so beautifully shot that the film is essentially a love letter to the city. Consider Cairo Time a romantic Egyptian travelogue.