Has Tom Hanks ever given a bad performance? He proves he is a living acting legend in ‘A Hologram For The King’ proving that a great performance can elevate a lesser film into something greater. Hanks here plays an American businessman trying to sell IT business to a planned city in Saudi Arabia. He has a lot of internal turmoil – a messy divorce, financial issues that hinder him from sending his daughter to college, an irate boss who is pressuring him to cinch this account. Hanks manages to balance both the comedy and dramatic tones here, and even if the character’s back story makes him a bit unlikable, Hanks manages to reel you in his corner.
The first half of the film plays like ‘Alice In Wonderland,’ wherein Alan the American has to the KSA’s customs (He asks the room service for beer only to be told liquor is not consumed in the kingdom) He gets raincheck after raincheck upon meeting his contacts, until he takes matters in his own hands. His jet lag leads him to a local driver and their scenes remind us of a weird buddy film and their adventures. The second half of the film is more a journey of self-acceptance, a tender romance with a doctor (a luminous Sarita Choudhory)
I liked the film enough, probably because Hanks’ star power carries the day. I don’t know if I have been interested in the film had I only known about its plot, and also from knowing it is adapted from Dave Egger’s novel (I just do not ‘get’ Egger’s writing even as I appreciate its brilliance) I know this film got lost in the Spring shuffle, but I bet a lot of people will discover this on video and will get a second life.