Release Date: 2016

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Rating: R (some sexuality and nudity, language and drug use)

IMHO: I give this film a thumbs up

This movie is based on a bestselling novel by Dave Eggers, adapted and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The International, Cloud Atlas, Sense8), featuring Tom Hanks, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tom Skerritt.

What is the story?

Tom Hanks plays Allan Clay who is sent to Saudi Arabia to sell the King a holographic telecommunications system. Allan really needs this sale, not only to keep his job but also because he is divorced and wants to support his daughter through college.

Through flashbacks, we find that he used to be on the Board of Schwinn Bicycle Company before it outsourced to a Chinese company. His dad always begrudges him the loss of American jobs and he wishes he could make him proud. Adding to his stress level, Allan also has a tumorous growth on his back.

Now arriving jet-lagged in Saudi Arabia, he oversleeps each morning, missing his shuttle to the King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade (KMET). He hires Yousef, a cab driver (Alexander Black) who becomes a guide for him. He meets a good-looking woman (Sidse Babett Knudsen) at a Danish Embassy party but is not “interested”.

Then he meets a female doctor (Sarita Choudhury) and they are attracted to each other. Their relationship develops, they get to know each other more before they jump into bed. In the end, there is no sale, the Chinese underbid them with the same technology.

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But Allan stays. He has found love on many levels in this country.

Bottom Line

While noting that most critics are not enamored with A Hologram for the King, the public likes it quite a lot, and so did I. There’s no James Bond, no chase scene, no shootings or bombs… Of special interest to me was visiting Saudi Arabia without leaving. I imagine all kinds of things about many countries, and my assumptions are probably mostly wrong.

Allan really falls in love with Saudi Arabia. He looks at the endless sand and thinks it’s beautiful. He takes many photos including camels. He sees them rubbing their backs in the sand just like our pets might roll in the grass here. It helped me open my eyes and heart to a different country. I can at least imagine it differently.

He travels to the “country”, passing through forbidden (to non-Muslims) Mecca. With him, we enter people’s home and discover how they live, their beautiful homes. We see a woman doctor, which is perhaps rare, but most of us think it not possible at all.

We are wrong.

So the film is beautifully done, the scenes are splendid, the actors extraordinary. Well-worth seeing.

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