A Hologram For The King (2016) Film Review from the 15th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, a movie directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Whishaw, Rolf Saxon, and Tom Skeritt.
After working on their last film Cloud Atlas, Tom Tykwer and Tom Hanks reunite in their film adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2012 novel A Hologram For A King. The film brings to our attention a man, who’s in the midst of a mid-life crisis, which is something that most of us come to when we hit that part of our lives. Hanks pulls in a type of role that we haven’t seen since his younger days, except it’s much profound with some shades of fatigue.
Tom Hanks plays Alan Clay, an American IT salesman who gets sent to Saudi Arabia to pitch his company’s holographic technology for the King of Saudi Arabia for his new city complex being built in the middle of the desert. Clay arrives all jet-lagged and not ease with his stay. To make matters worse, he finds his team inside a tent with no Wi-Fi and sees that the city hasn’t even started getting built yet. Clay ends up frustrated with his dire situation as he deals with unruly officials, a king who always delays his visits, a personal driver (Alexander Black) who may have an assassination order on him, and a strange lump growing on his back. This all takes place as Clay tries to keep things together with his work and family from the comfort of his hotel room.
The strangest encounters that Clay deals with are with two women, both contrastingly different but exist to explore Clay’s romantic side. We first have Hanne (Sidese Babett Knudsen), a Danish woman who works for the King’s second-in-command. She tries to put the moves on Clay during a Danish Embassy party after seeing how sex depraved he is from living alone in a foreign country. However, Clay seems to be more interested in Dr. Hassan (Sarita Choudhury), whom he makes a connection with after she treats the lumps on his back during his visit to the clinic. Dr. Hassan shows a similar compassion for Clay after saving his life when he goes through a panic attack at his hotel room. The two soon end up going on a skinny dipping trip at her place where the two profess their feelings for one another.
It’s no surprise that Tom Hanks owns every scene he’s in. He arranges a trace of depiction that comes together slowly to make Alan Cray well grounded and deep. Just like in every one of his films, Tom Hanks takes every scene and makes it his own, finding a way to show what makes Clay tick but doing it in a subtle yet controlling manner. Alexander Black shares some amazing chemistry with Hanks during their driving scenes together, acting as a comic relief of sorts and forming a strong friendship during their travels together.
Both director Tom Tykwer and Tom Hanks seem to have an understanding on the source material in this film. After working together in Cloud Atlas, both these men continue to bring the best out of each other in front and behind the camera. Tom Tykwer directs with poise since he has one of the top actors in the industry in your corner. Pinpointing of the film’s method is the shots of Cray’s daily work routine and the people he sees everyday, giving us a unique view of the characters while also stressing the human side of the movie. Like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, the film’s excellence lies in its focus on one character who’s at a crossroads in his life as he navigates what may come next in his future. Despite it’s odd structure, the film beautifully captures the landscapes of the desert and the isolated terrain where the future city is being built on.
At it’s core, A Hologram For A King is a simple film that reminds us that no matter how difficult life can be, it’s sometimes good to take a breather and appreciate the important things in life. At first, the film will take time to grab the attention of the viewer, but it is all worth it due to the great performance of Tom Hanks. It’s a heart-warming film that touches us when we get tot the end and is quite entertaining when we see Tom Hanks’ presence on screen.
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