Tom Hanks is salesman Alan Clay who gets assigned to a project in Saudi Arabia. The king is building a massive city in the desert and needs a communications system. Clay happens to know one of the king’s sons and gets the job of persuading his royal highness to buy his firm’s goods.
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Clay is divorced, has a stagnating career and — according to the ex-wife — is also failing as a father, because he can’t afford to pay for his daughter’s college. And the new job is impossible, he keeps oversleeping, has a huge cyst on his back and — in a Saudi Arabia no-no — starts drinking too much.
That leads him to unique connections with a Saudi man who drives him to work and with a female doctor — something even more unique to Saudi life.
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Hologram is written and directed by Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas). His dialogue is as wonderful as the premise and the characters. And Hanks and his co-stars benefit from his patient storytelling.
Alexander Black plays the driver whose nonstop patter at first irritates Clay. Black is quite funny and brings much needed humor to the mostly serious story. Sarita Choudhury (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) is the doctor. She’s excellent as the mysterious woman whose haunted looks and intelligence have Clay instantly smitten.
And then there’s Hanks. No one since Jimmy Stewart has played the ordinary guy as well. Hanks is the everyman. Like Stewart, there’s an uncomfortableness about him. Hanks is never quite happy in his own skin. Life has been good but has never quite been fulfilling, yet in the end, he finds himself. Or at least accepts who he is and his ultimate fate.
Your fate, should you choose to exercise this option — and you should — is to enjoy one of the year’s best movies.
A Hologram for the King
Director: Tom Tykwer
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Tom Skerritt, Ben Whishaw, Sidse Babette Knudson
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated R for mature themes, brief nudity, language. It’s playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.