Andrea Riseborough earned raves for her performance in two films that bowed at Sundance earlier this year, two films that could not be more different. The first, “Possessor,” which was released Friday, stars the English actress as an agent who uses a brain implant to inhabit other people’s bodies. The second, “Luxor,” is a slow-burn romance that has Riseborough play a war-zone doctor who works through trauma and falls in love against the stunning backdrop of one of the world’s oldest cities.
Below see a trailer for “Luxor,” which Samuel Goldwyn Films will release on VOD on December 4. The film is the first in ten years from writer-director Zeina Durra, whose 2010 Sundance pick “The Imperialists Are Still Alive!,” her feature debut, was similarly well received. “Luxor” reunites Durra with Karim Saleh, who also starred in “Imperialists.”
In “Luxor,” Riseborough plays a British doctor, Hana, who temporally eaves her war-zone post to return to Luxor, a beloved city from her past. There she works through the trauma of her grueling work and reconnects by chance with a former boyfriend (Saleh), a archeologist working in the region.
Riseborough told Deadline that both Hana and Sultan are “reclaiming something that is timeless.” “You have the potential for a couple of hours to just be completely transported to this place — to look at it and feel it. Some people think it’s about a woman finding herself, finding who she is, but that doesn’t seem to be Hana to me at all,” Riseborough said. “She’s a very highly skilled surgeon who’s operated in the most stressful situation you could possibly probably be in, and with the worst resources, in terrible circumstances. So it’s not discovering oneself, it’s connecting — or reconnecting — with the past and the future, and getting the perspective that there is so much more to come.”
The human drama, conveyed largely non-verbally by Riseborough, plays out amid Luxor’s ancient temples and other relics. Cinematographer Zelmira Gainza detailed her approach to capturing that historic beauty to IndieWire.
“When we were discussing how to shoot the film,” Zeina said that she wanted there to be restraint in all areas. “This meant that we shot minimal coverage, spending more time designing wider shots that really integrated characters in the locations,” she said. “Zeina’s framing is extremely precise. Our approach to lighting was to keep it as naturalistic as possible, and always soft, mainly using it to adjust contrast or shape the existing light. For night scenes we relied heavily on practicals.”