Globalization is friend and foe in Tom Tykwer’s A Hologram for the King. Tom Hanks stars as a divorced, somewhat disgraced salesman who flies to Saudi Arabia, where he hopes to make a deal that may resuscitate his career, or at least fund his daughter’s college tuition. Immediately the movie settles into a rhythm set by the salesman’s work schedule, marked by jet lag, oversleeping, Kafkaesque bureaucracy, and sand, lots of sand. The most interesting scenes are of the salesman alone in his hotel room, unraveling. Quickly the salesman develops a rapport with an amusing Saudi factotum (Alexander Black); they dish on extramarital affairs, foreign policy, and rock-n-roll. When a woman doctor (Sarita Choudhury) enters the salesman’s life, the movie shifts tones, turning increasingly sentimental. Still, our Jimmy Stewart holds together this slight, sweet, and sincere tale of middle-age malaise.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White