The setting of this film is a luxury cruise on a lovely quaint sailboat as three couples set off down the Nile River in Egypt. The owner and captain (Alfonso DiLuca) of the boat serves as the narrator of their journey. They will stop from time to time to visit ancient ruins and glittering temples, and enjoy the hospitality of villagers along the way. It is the trip of a lifetime and they luxuriate in the exotic scenery of lush palm tree lined banks and foliage as they slip down the famous waterway of the ancients.
The wife of one of the couples, Alexa Fontaine, (Stacy Marie Williams) has booked this cruise, hoping to save her crumbling marriage to her husband, Dylan (Jarred Harper). Dylan is a rather clueless and somewhat socially awkward “trust fund” son of a financially well-endowed family. Harper gives his character a kind of “no frills” earnest approach which plays deftly off the others in the ensemble.
The Fontaines have generously extended the invitation to join them on the cruise to their best friends, Amber and Jake McIntyre (Lesley Grant and Nick Dreselly Thomas). Dylan and Jake have been close friends since high school and met their wives in college. Though close for years, the two men come from very different backgrounds and have very different world views. Dylan is poised to become CEO of his father’s mining and equipment company while Jake is employed at that company as a security guard at the front gate. Additionally, he served in the U.S. military for several years. Thomas provides Jake the appropriate rough-hewn temperament that plays well off the more Ivy League Dylan. His wife Amber (Grant) is enthralled with the history and lore of ancient Egypt and her character weaves in and out of the story but Grant makes us aware of her presence, giving Amber a delightful sweetness and carefreeness, but adding darker tones as the story plays out.
There is one surprise awaiting the two couples as they board the boat. Although Alexa protests that she booked the cruise for only their party of four, they arrive onboard to find a third couple. Beautiful and exotic Safiya (Yolanthe Cabau) and her traveling companion, Darius (Massi Furlan) are supine on the deck wrapped in a sexy embrace that seems quite inappropriate for the setting. As all eyes fall on Safiya, Alexa is immediately suspicious and uneasy as Safiya is not just stunningly beautiful, but practically exudes sex from her pores. Dylan, failing in his marriage, is a prime target for her increasingly obvious plays.
As the journey continues, there is a thoroughly enjoyable trip on camelback and Safiya’s seductive dance around a fire while local villagers provide exotic music. She is a modern Salome in a figure-hugging hot pink dress as she surreptitiously singles Dylan out to become more and more intrigued by her and her beauty and the mystery that seems to surround her. Harper’s Dylan is sadly hapless under her spell.
One could guess where this storyline is headed, but be careful. Writers Will Patching and Eric Weinstock, as well as director Marlin Darrah, have carefully crafted a storyline that will confuse and surprise you. Emotions run high and so does the action as the climax of the film nears. Darrah revs up the pace of the film, slowly at first, from the lazy river drama, then ever-quickening and becoming rapid fire, ending with a breakneck, unexpected conclusion.
An Egypt Affair is beautifully crafted and well-acted by an ensemble of widely varying backgrounds and experiences. The male characters are carefully framed to be completely different from one another, yet joined by their back stories. The two women never seem to quite frame their connection to each other or to their husbands, although Williams (Alexa) makes good use of her scenes with Dylan (Harper) to give us some idea of a relationship falling apart.
Music for the film was composed by Iran Garcia and is well-deserving of mention. It envelops every scene and takes us away to the beauty and mystery of the Nile. Director Darrah (who also appears in the film, somewhat Hitchcockian as an Egyptologist) lays out his renowned, expansive and captivating local scenery for us. In line with his previous successes (Amazon Queen, Monsoon Lover), An Egypt Affair offers intrigue, danger, and darkness submerged in the alluring expanse of antiquity.
The film’s secret is in the title – Affair. A thesaurus declares it a word of innumerable meanings. Is it an entanglement, a liaison, or a crossroad.? Or does it refer to all those and more? Words can both enlighten. . . and mislead.