"A Hologram For the King"
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Running Time: 97 minutes
Remember the Tom Hanks of the 1980s? The whip-smart fast talker with energy to burn and confidence to match? Director Tom Tykwer does, and by casting his Cloud Atlas star in his adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel “A Hologram for the King,” you will be instantly transported back to the days before this lovable wiseass became the Jimmy Stewart of his generation. A Hologram for the King even opens with Hanks belting out a version of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” during a surreal suburban nightmare sequence that’s designed to reveal the agitated state of mind of his corporate sale executive, Alan Clay. That, though, is about as out there as A Hologram for the King gets. In A Hologram for the King, Alan could easily be one of Hanks' characters from The ‘Burbs or The Money Pitt all grown up and gripped by a mid-life crisis. Emotionally and psychologically stressed as a result of his recent divorced, and worried about his financial commitments to his college-bound daughter, Alan finds himself under tremendous pressure to close a deal to provide IT services to a new city being built in Saudi Arabia. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong, resulting in Alan suffering from poor health and finding himself under the care of Sarita Choudhury’s doctor, Zahra. There are many moments in A Hologram for the King when Hanks shows off the vitality, defiance and optimism of his younger self in a canny bid to show how bad life choices, business failures and poor health has left Alan at a loss in middle age. Few actors have the onscreen history who could inform such a performance, and Hanks knows it. We’re rooting for Alan all the way to get himself together and make something of his trip to Saudi Arabia. Being a stranger in a strange land works in Alan’s favor. It is both frustrating and invigorating for a man not sure where his life and career are going. Reminiscent of last year’s Rock the Kasbash, and this year's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, A Hologram for the King mines its inherent culture clash for smart laughs, resulting in some insightful observations about the way the West and the Middle East go about their personal and professional business. This is especially highlighted through Alan’s relationships with the gracious Zahra and his slightly jittery driver, Yousef, who is played with street smarts by Alexander Black. A Hologram for the King shies away from religion beyond the implied impact of Clay’s interactions with Zahra, as honorable as they may be in the eyes of a Westerner. Still, while A Hologram for the King makes it clear that modern technology has made the world a smaller place, the differences between the West and the Middle East remain too great to overcome overnight.
Aired: April 21, 2016
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/ahologramfortheking/