A Hologram for the King review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
A Hologram for the King is a fun film that overstays its welcome somewhere across the half-point mark, when its innocent plot steps into preachy territory carrying all pre-established weight onto further events that [SPOILER ALERT] I will not spoil. The clash with Arabic culture not only helps Tom Hanks’ mannerisms, but it applauds his effort to innocently and discreetly propagate whatever his agenda allows – and fortunately for us this time it’s a satirical reflection of days long gone by in a life of a single human being, who also happens to be a failed salesman lost somewhere in Saudi Arabia’s vast deserts.
This time we see Tom Tykwer at the helm steering a ship that very much differs from his previous works like Run Lola Run or Perfume: The Story of a Murderer for example. His flair to give soul to everything he touches is present here as well, and to a certain degree it adds complexity to a somewhat straightforward movie-going experience. That is not to say that Tykwer has lost his touch – it’s rather his touch has changed for the ‘weirder’ and the ‘more ‘preachy.
Lots of moviegoers have compared A Hologram for the King with Sofia Coppola’s ‘accidental’ masterpiece Lost in Translation, and one can say they’re not very far off. In actuality, they’ve struck a chord – only this time A Hologram for the King shared nearly all flaws that plagued the 2003 Bill Murray feature, and little to zero of its perks.
In actuality, A Hologram for the King tries to directly lift parts of Lost in Translation in the form of a mid-life crisis, a chronotope that is unfamiliar to the main protagonist (which he must overcome and defeat) and meeting a woman who becomes a romantic interest within said time and space.
Also, at time it feels like the director developed the movie’s premise and stopped right there and then. “A failed salesman goes to Saudi Arabia to sell his product in a final effort to overcome his existential angst of ending up spending the rest of his life alone”. The twist is that Tom Hanks’ character meets someone and you have the whole movie wrapped up in a mere sentence or two. Has Tywker lost his touch? Hardly so, but then again: it all boils down to plot and proper storytelling, which A Hologram for the King severely lacks thereof.
One thing worth mentioning over and over again is Tom Hanks’ acting. After all, he’s the friendly baker, the charming ice-cream vendor, the everyday man who acts as a tribune conveying the thoughts that all think, but few have gotten the courage to actually speak. Given this fact, he executes his role perfectly and is charming as he always was.
A Hologram for the King comes off slow, copies parts from another feature and hits you across the head with its preachy message until all you can see is coarse sand that gets everywhere. However, Tywker’s originality paired with Hanks’ charisma is pushing this one just across the edge and for this fact alone I personally would recommend you give it a try.