A Hologram for the King

Director: Tom Tykwer
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 2.0

Crestfallen salesman Alan (Tom Hanks), working for an IT company out of Boston, is sent to Saudi Arabia to make a sales pitch - for teleconferencing software - to the King ... except the King hasn't been in town for a long time, there isn't much food and no Wi-Fi. It is essentially a fish-out-of-water tale with cultural elements thrown in (forbidden love with a married Muslim doctor, a bombastic cab driver for comic relief, the idea of exotic travel-as-personal therapy) carried entirely by Hanks' way of delicately crafting a textured figure out of a cardboard Willy Loman stereotype (a 'failure' who turns to drink and can't financially support his daughter). When it comes to Saudi Arabian culture (and problems in that area) it becomes ever so vague, only touching very lightly on the plight of women there (a female doctor in a room alone with a male patient is quickly misinterpreted). A terrible way to begin a movie: having Hanks sing a Talking Heads song in an intentionally corny 'music video'; a fantastic way to (almost) end a movie: a vibrantly photographed topless make-out session at the bottom of the Red Sea (into the blue again...).