By: Beth Widdicombe
Written and directed by British-born Zeina Durra, Luxor is a love story, a meditative look at healing and also a beautifully shot postcard trip around the mystical ancient ruins and sites in the city and deserts.
Set in the beautiful city of Luxor in modern day Egypt, we follow Hana a British war trauma doctor, played exquisitely by Andrea Riseborough, on a solitary break in the ancient city seeking healing, re-birth and regeneration.
On arriving we start our trip in the ‘Winter Palace’ hotel, a relic from the old Hotel days, visually reminiscent of the Agatha Christie, Merchant Ivory days. As she ventures into the city, we are aware from her interactions with the taxi driver that this is a familiar haunt for her, which is substantiated when she bumps into a past lover Sultan, an archaeologist played by Karim Saleh. As the film progresses, we are immersed in the spirituality of the location, the effects it has on healing Hana’s dark traumatised soul, which slowly reveals as the film progresses on.
The sense of past, present and future in her life are perfectly mirrored by the juxtaposition of modern-day and ancient dig sites, although much of her emotions are insular, they are ever-present. The rhythm of the film is slow, the heightened sounds of footsteps and doors clicking in the hotel are key in the overall feeling of solitude and displacement felt by Hana. Although she is from a scientific background, she often questions the energy felt from the city and visits a witch doctor to ease her trauma.
Towards the end in a climactic release during a dance scene, she finally let’s go, and we discover Hana’s dark past and her anxieties ease, leaving us hopeful that she has a future with hope of happiness, and potential to pursue a deep and meaningful love for both herself and Sultan.
A truly beautiful film, with stunning shots of the city and desert, and a journey of one woman’s past trauma to future happiness.
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