tom tykwer

Film Review: “A Hologram for the King”

Tom Hanks stars as an American businessman in Saudi Arabia in this adaptation of Dave Eggers' novel

“A Hologram for the King” beams into theaters at kind of an awkward time. Tom Hanks, the ultimate walking metaphor for the American Everyman, plays a character who travels to Saudi Arabia for a business meeting with the country’s monarch. President Barack Obama, whose status as a representative of the United States is anything but metaphorical, has just concluded his own trip to the same nation, as relations between the U.S. and the KSA (that’s “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”) are decidedly strained.

Alan Clay (Hanks) has been sent by his bosses to oversee a sales pitch presentation of a new holographic communication system. It’s a technology designed to make trips like Alan’s redundant, just as he (we later learn) made several hundred Schwinn bicycle factory workers redundant some years back. Now his life is falling apart, as exposited clumsily during the opening scene, which has Hanks performing a bastardized version of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” as his beautiful house and beautiful wife disappear into puffs of smoke behind him.

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