I’ve recently seen two excellent movies, Red Road and Cairo Time, and although on the face of it they couldn’t be more different, they actually share the same slow aesthetic, superb acting, and skillful storytelling. And they both give glimpses into fully-realized worlds.
Red Road is set in Scotland. It is dark, confusing, disturbing, and ultimately very satisfying. During most of the movie I found myself thinking, “what the hell is going on here?” That feeling added to the overall dissonance I felt while watching it, but when the end came around, it all became clear in such a skillful way that I realized the confusion I’d felt was entirely the director’s intent. Without giving too much away, the story focuses on a woman who earns a living by watching CCTV (government-sponsored closed circuit security camera) screens for a living. She’s the one doing the job that you’ve known for a while has existed, but you’ve tried not to notice while she’s noticing you! (Warning: this film has a very explicit sex scene.)
Cairo Time, on the other hand, is romantic, clear, and familiar. I once read a commentary on Jane Austen’s books that said that nothing ever happens in her books and yet you can’t wait to turn the page and see what doesn’t happen next–that feeling also applies to this movie. In fact, there are many parallels to Jane Austen’s stories in this movie and if you like them, you will probably like this movie. It is set, however, in contemporary Cairo, and the city is like an additional character involved in the romance. This movie is so well done that after watching it I felt full, as if I’d just eaten a delicious and satisfying meal. I loved it.
Interestingly, while Red Road is a much grimmer movie, it has a happier ending than the lighter Cairo Time does. They are both available on DVD, although Cairo Time is harder to find. I highly recommend them both!