Luxor Review | AFI Fest 2020

This story of a British aid worker returning to Luxor, Egypt, is one that not even Andrea Riseborough or the stellar cinematography can save.

Andrea Riseborough plays Hanna, a British aid worker returning to Luxor for some unknown purpose. She doesn’t know how long she’ll be in town, and she doesn’t know what she’s even doing there. However, when she reunites with Sultan (Karim Saleh), they reignite their relationship to help her find her purpose.

The star of Luxor is the cinematography, showcasing archeological digs, cityscapes drowned in sunlight, quiet riverboat rides, among modern aesthetics. Make no mistake; the story is not within the actual plot. Its real story is throughout the streets of Egypt, just watching the world pass by.

While this is admirable, the film is still trying to tell a story based on the trope of war trauma and the journey to healing. These two tones frequently are at war with each other and would be better served in separate films.

Zeina Durra doesn’t give us much to go on either. What little details we are given, we are meant to project the rest onto Riseborough’s performance, and the cinematography fills in the blanks. Luxor is definitely a film you’ve got to be in just the right mood to watch, and while I would recommend this film to just about anybody – it’s purely based on the cinematography and Riseborough.

I will give Luxor some major props with the Sultan storyline, where their conversations say so much about how Americans treat foreign countries compared to just about everyone else. That and the chemistry between Riseborough and Saleh is palpable.

The gorgeous cinematography, discussions about life away from home, and the overall anxiety of the couple’s futures signify that what Luxor is concerned with is showing Riseborough’s journey to recovery through going back to a city she loves.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Luxor will be available for rent starting on December 4th.