A Hologram for the King brings Tom Hanks back to the big screen for the first time since last year’s Bridge of Spies. After seeing Hanks in so many studio films over the years, it’s an interesting refresher to see Hanks play in an indie film for a change.
Written and Directed by Tom Tykwer, the movie is based on Dave Eggers’ novel. Hanks leads a cast that features Sarita Choudhury, Alexander Black, Tom Skerritt, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Tracey Fairaway.
Hanks and director Tykwer were both fans of the novel and agreed that it needed to be made into a film. It was only a question of whether Eggers was interested in seeing a movie adaptation. Lucky for us, Eggers was sold and both signed a non-traditional contract after meeting to pitch the film.
Not familiar with the book when I saw the film, I quickly learned that its a dark book. The fact that they were able to make a comedy out of it shows just how hard they worked on this project. With any books that get adapted for film, you have to choose what makes the script and what doesn’t while still making a film that flows together from start to finish. Tykwer chose to pick out the absurd moments that would work well in a comedy, much to Hanks’ surprise.
Hanks plays Alan Clay. It’s 2010. America is in a recession. He’s broke, dealing with a depression, and arrives in Saudi Arabia to make a deal with the government. He becomes friends with his driver, Yousef (Black) and they travel through the vacant desert.
When Clay finally meets his team, he’s none to pleased with their treatment as they prepare to sell the king a state-of-the art holographic teleconferencing system. He takes this up with the Welcome center and the receptionist is not too friendly to him. Moreover, nobody knows when the king is coming so he heads back to his hotel in Jeddah, where he ultimately gets an anxiety attack and is treated by Zahra Hakem (Shoudhury), a Muslim doctor.
There’s a lot of humor that comes from the culture barrier like when Clay gets mistaken for a CIA agent. Or like how his driver is always undoing the engine because he’s afraid something will happen with the car.
Roadside Attractions distributes the film, which opens in theaters on Friday. It is an independent film so please be sure to check your local listings.