A Hologram for the King

2016-06-17 08:03

What it's about:

Cultures collide when an American businessman is sent to Saudi Arabia to close what he hopes will be the deal of a lifetime. Baffled by local customs and stymied by an opaque bureaucracy, he eventually finds his footing with the help of a wise-cracking taxi driver and a beautiful Saudi doctor.

What we thought:

A Hologram for the King is not your typical Tom Hanks movie. You’ll have to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing. 

Hanks, who normally plays the heroic protagonist, is introduced to us as a rather dull character that you don’t instantly connect with. His likability is taken down a few notches as he embodies a much more vulnerable lead character. And refreshingly so.  

The film, I will admit, has a rather quirky side to it and a very dry type of humour that not everyone will fall in love with. Even the storyline, at first, seems rather unexciting. This is also not one of the Tom Hanks movies that will be raking in the awards or bringing in the big bucks at the box office.

But for some strange and rather unexpected reason I really enjoyed the film. There’s an intimacy and honesty to it that intrigued me. I was puzzled as to where all of this was going and thus enthralled in story unfolding in front of me. 

There was no trace of the typical cliché characters we’ve grown accustom to in Hollywood flicks over the years. Instead we’re introduced to an array of culturally diverse characters that offer up something interesting and unexpected. 

Alexander Black as Yousef and Sarita Choudbury as Zahra at times outshine Hanks and rightfully so. Their likability and openness at some instances rescues the film from fading into the mundane. They add to the mystery of the story and bring a very important energy to what could easily be labelled as a very vanilla storyline. 

For me the setting added to the intrigue. I’ve always been fascinated with Saudi Arabia – where desert life and modern technological advances marry together in a strangely perfect way. Where vast open spaces get transformed into modern cities right in front of our eyes. Hologram for the King taps into this effortlessly. 

The isolation that Hank’s character (Alan) experiences daily is juxtaposed to his job of connecting people across the globe with his hologram conference technology. In the middle of the desert he’s trying to bring people together using the latest tech. The beauty of this film lies in the stark contrast between these worlds and the aloneness you experience when you find yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s then when you have to decide – sink or swim. And Hanks swims. 

A Hologram for the King is a beautifully strange film that not everyone will fall in love with – but that’s also totally okay. 

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