Luxor review – beautifully sparse character study amid Egypt’s ancient glory

Andrea Riseborough stars as a war-zone medic going through a low-key mid-life crisis as she tries to recover by visiting the famous archaeological site

Slow, delicate and sparse, Luxor is coming out on digital this week just as all the cinemas close down again. If you have a chance to see it, try to view it in the dark, without distractions, on the biggest screen you can in order to approximate a cinema setting and to best appreciate its deep-breath pacing and dry-heat beauty.

Writer-director Zeina Durra’s feature, her second after the evocatively titled The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, follows English surgeon Hana (an unusually subdued Andrea Riseborough, giving a great, slow-burn performance) as she recovers from the horrors of working in a Syrian war zone for an aid organisation. As she rests up at a plush hotel in Luxor, the open-air museum of a town in Egypt she used to live in years 20 before, she passes the time visiting the sights and having polite interactions with other guests and tourists, all the while considering what may be an even more traumatic assignment in Yemen.

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