07/27/2010 10:55 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Patricia Clarkson Smokes a Hookah in Cairo Time

Long known as the friend (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), the mom (Pieces of April), the quirky aunt (the HBO series Six Feet Under), it's about time Patricia Clarkson starred in a movie. And star she does in Cairo Time, a fable about Juliette, a magazine writer who goes to Cairo to meet up with her husband, a U.N. official, for a vacation. Delayed in Gaza, he sends his friend Tareq (Alexander Siddiq) to shepherd her through this exotic and bustling location, complete with pyramids, camels, a boat ride on the Nile, and splendid sunsets. For emotional transportation, the hookah is the least of it. The movie of Eat, Pray, Love may be on the horizon, but Cairo Time gets there first.

At a special screening on Monday night followed by dinner at the refurbished Plaza Athenee, the Canadian writer/director Ruba Nadda, resplendent in red dress and lips, with long raven hair, spoke about this story, emblematic of a woman's awakening. "I was focused on the man," she said surprisingly. "I wanted to show a man from the Middle East like my Syrian father, traditional and yet a feminist."

Siddiq, a British actor who plays the man in question, modestly says he is not offered a great deal of roles and was captivated by Ruba's Cairo Time script. Originally from Sudan, Siddiq will soon appear in Julian Schnabel's Miral, a long-awaited movie based on the Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal's novel. "I play a very different kind of man, a Palestinian who is the glue for the women in the story."

Of the many well-wishers in attendance including Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, travel correspondent Peter Greenberg, another woman in red stood out: Patricia Clarkson's 75-year-old mother. An elected councilwoman from New Orleans, Jackie Clarkson was at ground zero during Hurricane Katrina, staying on to help with the city's recovery. You could see in an instant where Clarkson gets her vivacity.

This post also appears on Gossip Central..

Subscribe to the Entertainment email.
Home to your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs.