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A Hologram for the King

"A rich drama that is a mix of a cross-cultural gem, a funny fish-out-of-water comedy, and an appealing love story." - Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

"'A Hologram for the King' has great energy, and also a languorous, lived-in quality. Adapted by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) from the Dave Eggers novel, the movie locates us in a place — Saudi Arabia — and makes us want to stay. It finds a rhythm and engages us in the struggle of the central character. It becomes a kind of world, and we’re glad to be in it.

"It’s the story of a decent man who needs to put over a deal. An IT specialist, he has been invited by the government of Saudi Arabia to show his company’s hologram technology to the king. If he makes the sale and gets the commission, everything will be OK. But for now, his boss doubts him; his divorce is costing him money; and his devoted daughter had to temporarily leave college because he couldn’t pay the tuition.

"Because Tykwer is a smart director and because Hanks is one of the best screen actors in the world, Hanks doesn’t do the obvious thing here. He doesn’t play the character’s desperation. Rather he plays the professionalism of an executive salesman. He plays a fellow whose job is to conceal his worries and make sure nobody else worries.

"It’s one businessman’s story, but it’s bigger than that. There’s the sense that this is the story of the American businessman, competing in a global climate that’s cold to the persuasive charm of American cheerfulness and interested in money entirely and in quality not at all. Alan (Hanks), we are told, previously worked for Schwinn bicycles, a once-great company that relocated its factories overseas and eventually was sold off to the Chinese.

"Hanks is ideal for the central role, both in his essence and his skill. With Hanks, you don’t have to explain to the audience that this is a good guy and you need to care about him. His casting does that automatically. Hanks does the rest, finding a dignity in disappointment that comes out of the simple assumption that people have value, that lives are bigger than deals." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

 

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