Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. As in David Lean's "Brief Encounter," the suspense in Cairo Time comes from what doesn't happen between its pair of "lovers."
  2. 80
    Like so many movie love stories before it - from Murnau's "Sunrise" to Linklater's "Before Sunrise," and beyond - Cairo Time is about two wandering lovers, people spending time together without realizing how precious that time will come to be.
  3. Think "In the Mood for Love" with hookahs instead of chopsticks.
  4. Ms. Clarkson's performance as Juliette, the fashion-writer wife of a United Nations functionary, is the film's reason for being. She makes yearning palpable. She turns mysterious silences into a language of love.
  5. 75
    It's a haunting and hypnotic film.
  6. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    The melancholic, beautiful Cairo Time confirms two things that hardly need confirming: The Egyptian capital is a breathtaking metropolis, and Patricia Clarkson is one of the best actors in the world.
  7. 75
    Cairo Time is a valentine to Egypt.
  8. Rarely is an actress asked to do so much with so little -- and even rarer does that actress succeed as well as Clarkson does.
  9. 75
    What emerges is time pleasantly spent with a slice of life that examines a romantic d├ętente between two cultures. Like smoke from an Egyptian hookah, the melancholia lingers.
  10. Cairo Time is affectingly gentle, with Juliette slowing down to open up -- a gossamer transformation that Clarkson makes tangible.
  11. You may find, as I did, that the lovely twilit moments in this movie stay with one, and that summoning them up in your mind is like slowing down time.
  12. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Cairo Time is the kind of quietly romantic chamber piece one wants to speak up for, in part to support the small but growing band of Arab women making their mark on national cinemas both East and West.
  13. 70
    The time does pass agreeably enough, and if Cairo Time does not amount to much, it does evoke a wistful state of feeling and a complicated city with enough skill and sensitivity that you wish it had dared more.
  14. Cairo Time may be your ticket if you're in the mood for love, but the excursion is a cut-rate journey.
  15. 67
    The plot doesn't really stand up to scrutiny, but Cairo Time works on an emotional level and is a hassle-free way to sample Egypt.
  16. 67
    It's a postcard-lovely movie that, in spite of its best intentions, ends up feeling a little touristy.
  17. 63
    Given the rarity of such movies, and such opportunities for an actress like Clarkson, Cairo Time earns some indulgence for a pace that Westerners may find languid.
  18. If you're interested in a drama about a few days in the life of an American abroad, you may find Cairo Time engaging. But for some viewers, it all may be just too subtle.
  19. Writer-director Ruba Nadda's film is ultimately like a summertime flirtation that never quite comes to anything.
  20. Reviewed by: Lisa Rosman
    For a movie defined by its restraint, this travelogue is remarkably physical; as a valentine to the rueful desire of grown-ups acquainted with both joy and disappointment, the film is a true rarity.
  21. Cairo Time remains smart, compelling and appropriately sad at its finale.
  22. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Happily, writer-director Ruba Nadda's emphasis on body language ultimately trumps the clumsiness of her script.
  23. Reviewed by: Sura Wood
    Aside from the sweltering Egyptian climate, little heat or excitement is generated by the film or its attractive stars.
  24. 50
    Cairo Time is a kind of bourgeois delusion. It's authentically aggravated but bogusly conceived.
  25. One disappointment here is that Patricia Clarkson, the queen of indie film, is missing much of her usual spark. Her performance may be aiming for sensual, but too often it comes across more as listless.
  26. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    The fourth feature from Canadian writer-helmer Ruba Nadda ("Sabah") has a slightly breathless, old-fashioned feel, calling to mind the cliched fiction found in the type of ladies' magazine the heroine edits.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 2 out of 7
  1. Feb 13, 2011
    The movie is quite nice to watch, except for, and am I the only one to notice, I wonder, the main female character. She is nauseatingly ugly, and her looks make it hard to believe that any sort of chemistry could possibly exist between her and...a man. Why spend all that money on making a movie, and then cast someone with the looks of a witch from the woods ? I don't get it... Full Review »
  2. Lyn
    Jul 3, 2011
    One reviewer's reference to "Brief Encounter" is apt: So much hinges on what may be left unsaid and undone. Enjoyable as long as you're not expecting much drama. The atmospherics of Cairo were quite entrancing -- though they seemed sanitized compared to what's gone on there recently and the revelations of how threatened women are, even walking down the street fully covered. I'm a big fan of Patricia Clarkson, in everything from "The Station Agent" to old "Frasier" reruns; she wraps up warmth, humor, strength and loneliness in one delicate package. In this, she's looking a bit wan and wizened . . . but does a good job keeping you wondering whether she will break from her usual moral code or not. Full Review »
  3. Jun 7, 2011
    Did I enjoy it. Yeah i did. Sortof. Would i watch it again. Nope. Its a nice scenic tour around Cairo and is certainly a nice relaxing movie to watch. But , one of its failings is the lead female character. She appears mute and unsuitable to the role. There is no chemistry at all emancipating from her. If the movie had concentrated as much on the script and on the chosen female lead as they did with the scenery then it could have been good. Remnds me of an alright black and white movie. Full Review »