Pin It
.
Favorites

Film review: "A Hologram for the King" 

Adapted from Dave Eggers' 2012 novel, "A Hologram for the King" stars Tom Hanks as Alan Clay, a sadsack American business consultant in the midst of an existential crisis. With a failed marriage and a loving but increasingly distant daughter, Clay is at a crossroads when he arrives in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to pitch a new holographic teleconferencing technology to the king.

The company Clay works for is hoping to capitalize on the king's long-term plan to turn the country's barren desert into a thriving metropolis. But once he's there, the king's representatives keep delaying the meeting, leaving Alan and his team hanging, surrounded by a culture that remains consistently beyond their comprehension. It's "Waiting For Godot" in the Middle East as Clay battles with the country's inscrutable bureaucracy, represented by the disconcerting visual of a single, gleaming office building standing oasis-like in the middle of the desert. The Saudi Arabia depicted in the film is a place of contrasts, with a people governed by the old ways but preoccupied with the shiny and new.

Director Tom Tykwer ("Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," "Run Lola Run") fills the story with playfully absurdist touches, like the opening nightmare sequence in which Hanks sing-shouts the lyrics to "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads. It kicks off the film in high-energy fashion, even if it doesn't quite match up with the rather melancholy story that follows. The entire film is a mishmash of tones that never fully gels. With its meandering, fish-out-of-water story, the film often feels like a descendent of Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," which similarly explored an American's feelings of dislocation and estrangement in a strange and foreign land.

Alan gradually develops a friendship with his 70's rock-loving driver, Yousef (Alexander Black), as well as a tentative relationship with Dr. Hakim (SaritaChoudhury), a female Saudi doctor who treats him for a strange lump that's mysteriously appeared on his back. As these relationships build, the story occasionally crosses into Òmiddle-aged white guy gets his groove back thanks to the exotic Middle Easterners' territory, but Hanks is such a pro that his performance allows more honest emotion to shine through than that description might imply. "Hologram" is a minor oddity, but Hanks' wearily endearing performance serves as a reminder that heÕs still one of the best actors working today.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Movie Reviews

More by Adam Lubitow

Browse Listings

Submit an event
Mary A. Hood: Poetry and Essay Reading @ 2050 Campus Center, RIT

Mary A. Hood: Poetry and Essay Reading @ 2050 Campus Center, RIT

RIT’s English Creative Writing Faculty to host poet and essayist Mary A...

View all of today's events »

  • Re: Our national emergency

    • Harry, I see you care about education.

      Lesson #1-- America is a Republic

    • on February 19, 2019
  • Re: Our national emergency

    • Mrs. Towler, I wonder if youknow the song, "Democracy" by Leonard Cohen. Here is a…

    • on February 19, 2019
  • Re: RTS is thinking about creating 'mobility zones'

    • I would suggest RTS create a couple of loops in the suburban villages. For example,…

    • on February 18, 2019
  • More »
  • This Week's Issue

    Cover Story:
    Yarms: a profile in musical curiosity
    read more ...

    Tweets @RocCityNews

    © 2019 City Newspaper.

    Website powered by Foundation.