THE AQUARIUMCairo in Winter. Laila is the presenter of a night time radio show called ‘Night Secrets’ during which callers phone in to ask for advice or talk about their experiences. The programme is particularly popular among listeners who take vicarious pleasure in participating in the love lives of others without having to reveal their own.
Youssef is an anaesthetist. He enjoys listening to the things that his anaesthetised patients mumble as they drift off into unconsciousness. Youssef’s father has cancer and is near death. During the day, Youssef works in a reputable private clinic. By night, he earns a bit extra in a shady abortion clinic. Laila and Youssef don’t know each other. And yet they have their similarities. Both are introverted and hide their true personality behind the secrets of others. In three days’ time, Laila and Youssef’s paths will cross by chance. This film describes what happens to them prior to this moment. At the same time, the film paints a contemporary portrait of everyday life in the Egyptian capital. The Muslim Brotherhood is winning an increasing number of seats in the Egyptian parliament but, out on the streets, there are demonstrations against state corruption and Mubarak’s plan to bequeath his presidential office to his son.
One of the film’s most significant locations is the aquarium in the gardens built by Khedive Ismael. Nowadays this is where you’ll find schoolchildren playing truant, young lovers, and voyeurs.