A Hologram for the King is a comedy drama directed by Tom Tykwer. Alan Clay (Hanks) is a depressed American salesman who’s in Saudi Arabia on a business trip selling a holographic telecom system to a Saudi King. As Alan spends more and more time in Saudi Arabia he begins to sort through his midlife crisis while trying to understand the intricacies involved in the local culture.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this film other than I deeply enjoy almost everything that is Tom Hanks. The beginning of the film sets up the tone of a man struggling with his place in life and then immediately the tone shifts as it transitions into a light hearted romantic film and a buddy movie. The film tries to convey the complexities of the customs between American and Saudi life. It feels incomplete as there isn’t enough time to go around with all the subplots. The pacing fluctuates with the many subplots creating a slow-moving film. It was kind of jarring to see Alexander Black play another race instead of opting to cast someone from Arab descent. Luckily Tom Hanks is enjoyable and charismatic like always. He carries the film along with the rest of the cast, to create an enjoyable good feel movie. Along with the clutter of subplots there are some scenes that have strong resemblance to Lost in Translation leaving me a bit bored at watching familiar moments.
Somewhere in A Hologram for the King are some interesting themes, but only scratch the surface and opt to finish the film on a friendly note. The film stretches itself too thin and somehow feels too short and too long at the same time. Maybe it’s just my bias for Tom Hanks that I found A Hologram for the King to still be charming and enjoyable, even though the narrative is muddled. Watch it, but maybe keep your expectations low.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 1 hr 38 min
Director: Tom Tykwer
Screenplay: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury and Sidse Babett Knudsen
Producers: Stefan Arndt, Gary Goetzman, Arcadiy Golubovich, Tom Hanks, Uwe Schott and Tim O’Hair
Music: Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer
Cinematography: Frank Griebe