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Patricia Clarkson, the soulful Southern-born American actress of countless memorable features, dons a Middle Eastern headscarf for a melancholy solo stroll through the narrow passageways of contemporary Cairo in this intoxicating romantic melodrama from Canadian director Ruba Nadda that echoes such classic screen travelogues as Brief Encounter, Before Sunrise and Lost in Translation. Clarkson delivers a mesmerizing performance as Juliette Grant, a U.N. diplomat’s wife and overworked Manhattan women’s magazine editor who arrives on vacation in teeming Cairo only to discover that her workaholic husband is delayed in Gaza on a peacekeeping mission. Alone in a hotel, in an unfamiliar city, the soul-searching Juliette reaches out to handsome gentleman café owner Tareq (Alexander Siddig), a former employee of her husband, who helps the foreigner navigate the complicated corridors of Egypt’s kinetic capital—until an unexpected romance blossoms. Nadda’s fourth feature is as languid, pensive and sultry as its central heroine, and Clarkson here is working at the top of her game in a standout role that sits somewhere in between the grieving mother in Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent and the glamorous expatriate in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Add to that the sumptuous on-location camera work of Luc Montpellier and an aching score by Niall Byrne and the Dublin String Quartet that nearly trumps Michael Nyman’s work in The Piano and you’ve got an exotic, world-weary screen romance that is painstakingly primo Clarkson.

Added by cdnconsulatesf on April 15, 2010

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