Based on Dave Eggers novel, and starring Tom Hanks, Hologram for the King is the story of Alan (Hanks) a failed American businessman looking to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his companies holographic communication software to a wealthy monarch. While on his travels he tries to correct his downward spiral by romancing a Saudi doctor he meets and trying to work out his place in the world.
Tom Hanks is one of my all time favourites. If his name is on the poster I'm in. If he is on a chat show, even when repeating the familiar tales of Big, Forrest Gump and countless other films, I will tune in.
There have only been two occasions where I haven't enjoyed a Tom Hanks film. The Larry Crowne Affair & Cloud Atlas (which I still haven't made it the whole way through) being the two in question. Other than that Tom & I have a great cinematic relationship.
I'm therefore sad to say that there is now a third disappointment to add to the list. Hologram for the King was not an enjoyable experience . From the opening sequence, in which Hanks does a bizarre rendition of 'Once in a Lifetime' by Talking Heads, I was very uneasy in my seat.
The film never settles on what exactly it is.
Is it a culture clash comedy? Is it a love story? Is it a film with a message?
If it was intended as a culture clash comedy it certainly not funny enough. Alan's driver Yousef (played by Alexander Black) is the comic foil and is not funny at all, and in fact plays on racial stereotypes way too much.
If it was intended to be a romance there is no believable chemistry between Alan and his love interest (Sarita Choudhury).
If this is a film with a message it is a very unclear and garbled one. Go find that job and/or person which makes you happy appears to be the mantra but it is not expressed well enough to change the viewer's outlook on leaving the cinema. Bizarre dream sequences and jarring edits, that would almost make you think scenes are missing, removed what little pleasure I took from this instantly forgettable film.
Hologram for a King is on general release from 20th May.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access.