A Hologram for the King
Based on Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name, A Hologram for the King sees Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer’s if not triumphant, then at least more promising, return to the realm of film.
The narrative follows failed businessman Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) as he makes a last-ditch attempt to secure his daughter’s college education on a business pitch in Saudi Arabia. However, when he gets there things refuse to go his way. In fact, things haven’t been going well for Clay for quite a while, as the rather colourful opening sequence (a wry rendition of Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime) elucidates. While his business plan stalls, Clay goes on a journey of self-discovery with his driver Yousef (Alexander Black) and Dr Zahra (Sarita Choudrey) to support him along the way.
For the most part, the result is enjoyable; the humour has its charm, Hanks is steadily excellent, Alexander Black provides effective comic relief and, thankfully, the film avoids the pitfalls many similar stories about white journeys of self-discovery fall victim to. It’s sweet, nuanced and wonderfully vibrant, but the narrative is a little directionless and tends to dwell. Though largely intentional, the effect may try viewers’ patience. There is a sense, too, of clinging surrealism: odd coincidences never examined or explained, bizarre occurrences. Perhaps it’s a deliberate reflection of the disorientation of being abroad, perhaps it’s simply becoming Tykwer’s hallmark. Whatever the intention, this sense of slightly off-beat oddness is far from off-putting – in fact it’s rather endearing, adding a quirkiness to the production.
While, on the whole, A Hologram for the King is a rather bland affair, it is pleasant and certainly has it’s rewarding moments. As an examination of middle class and middle-aged angst, it’s definitely worth a watch.
A Hologram for the King is released nationwide on 20th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for A Hologram for the King here: