For as beautiful as Egypt is, you’d think more Western movies would be set there. At any rate, director Zeina Durra‘s new film contains enough sweeping shots of ancient tombs to fill half a dozen great movies, so I guess this is a good start.

Luxor follows Andrea Riseborough‘s Hana, a doctor on leave from working in an international combat zone. She returns to Luxor, an Egyptian city where she spent some crucially formative years in the past, and runs into Sultan (Karim Saleh), an old flame from that period.

The movie is a slow, deliberate trek through Hana’s reacquaintance with Sultan, but it also takes on the hefty burden of trying to intimate what the human experience is like in such a place. Hana is vaguely suspicious that the power of the tombs may be manifesting itself in the people around her, prompting her to wonder if she feels such an effect as well. It adds a mystically epic undertone to what is otherwise a slight story, and it’s a backdrop that works wonderfully.

Hana and Sultan’s chemistry is undoubtedly off, but the two actors make up for it with their remarkably true-to-life performances. Each awkward pause seems to have an entire world behind it, implying a whole world of experience to which the viewer simply is not privy.

The ending of this film is accompanied by more than a little bathos, but the path taken to get there is very much worth experiencing. Beauty and truth intermingle wonderfully in Luxor, and the film is ultimately a journey begging to be taken by all viewers.

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