Hangout Haze: Our Review of ‘Luxor’

Ancient Egypt was a civilization that still taps into contemporary imagination. There’s proof of that in Luxor, as it shows who the protagonist, Hana (Andrea Riseborough), shares her spaces with. She’s a tourist among locals. These locals practice a different religion from their ancestors but the former still have a reverence for the latter. They visit temples with ancients iconography and use that iconography in contemporary spaces. Anyway, Hana’s on vacation, but she hears a familiar voice who turns out to be Sultan (Karim Saleh). He’s a man who she worked with and had a relationship with.

Luxor is a familiar place to both Hana and Sultan. And it becomes a place where they open up after not seeing each other for so long. Hana chose Luxor as a vacation spot, taking a break from medical work at the Syrian border. The viewers eventually learn that she was an archaeologist which is how she met Sultan. Their conversations aim for catharsis, and that attempt requires subtle work from both actors. Saleh has the advantage here for the warmth he brings here, but critics have also praised Riseborough’s subtle work.

I’d like to add my words in the small choir praising Riseborough. Luxor also gives Hana a sense of agency. That’s especially true in the way that she makes Sultan come to him instead of the other way around. But that agency feels little in this movie. Here, all she does is hang out in temples or in her hotel room. She also looks bored in the latter, which is what one normally feels like in hotel rooms between stuff. But that strikes as bothersome here because she doesn’t want to return to her work.

Or perhaps Hana does, as the visit might be pulling her back to her first loves of Egyptology and Sultan. But Luxor‘s slow pace doesn’t drop enough clues about Hana’s motivations, constant or otherwise. Anyway, Hana and Sultan don’t just have their old haunt to themselves. One of those characters include Carl (Michael Landes), an annoying fellow ledger an Hana’s hotel. There’s also Salima (Salima Ikram, a real Egyptologist), an older woman who Sultan works for. But it’s as if the movie only wants them to be archetypes instead real characters.

Luxor also contains Hana through its cagey approach, whether it’s through characterization or outside methods. The film has chapters in an attempt to help us know what’s going on. But it also records other characters having full volume conversations in either Arabic or Chinese. And that’s without letting us know what those characters are saying, which makes those pieces of dialogue pointless. I’m giving that decision the benefit of the doubt under the eyes and ears of Zeina Durra. But regarding non-English dialogue as white noise seems like it’s pandering to a dumber Western viewership.

  • Release Date: 12/4/2020
This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');