A Hologram for the King (2016)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tracey Fairaway
Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Written by: Tom Tykwer
Rating: R Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min
A Hologram for the King (based on the novel by Dave Eggers) tries to blend several story elements together, and unfortunately, it doesn’t quite pull it off. It’s part mature romance, part lost soul midlife crisis journey, blended with US/Middle East culture clashes and gratuitous product placement. Apparently all educated people in Saudi Arabia drive shiny new Audi’s and surf the web on Sony Vaio laptops.
This film also has problems settling on a tone, as it tries to add moments of magical whimsy, in amongst a palpable feeling its lead, Alan (Tom Hanks) will cross one of the many ultra-conservative lines in the desert sand, and get into real trouble with the Saudi locals.
Tom Hanks in the central role is as good as you’d expect. Nicely portraying a man being pulled in many directions as he tries to recover from a disastrous business decision back home, and face a competitive world market, while trying to secure his daughter’s college tuition fees.
His performance however, can’t anchor Tom Tykwer’s clunky approach to telling this story. Is this a faithful adaptation of the book? I don’t know. But it feels like an honest attempt to incorporate a lot of elements from the source material, which may have led to the problems I had with this film. Tom Tykwer’s, A Hologram for the King, wastes too much time on supporting characters, and leaves the more important central mojo rediscovery and romance angles a tad underdeveloped.
The trailer for A Hologram for the King sells this film as a culture clash comedy with a romance angle on the side. This is a little misleading. Expect a serious film, with a few humorous moments.
This is a nicely photographed production, and looks great on a theater screen. If you wait for the rental, get the HD version to watch on a nice big TV.
Tom Hanks and Sarita Choudhury had great chemistry, and their onscreen romance was mature and very authentic.