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A Hologram for the King

by Maria

Genre: comedy, drama
Duration: 1h 38min  
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writers: Dave Eggers (novel), Tom Tykwer (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tracey Fairaway
Rated R

Everyone wants to be somewhere else.

I saw A Hologram for the King with a friend at the Bow Tie Theatre in Chelsea, Manhattan on a terribly cold and depressing Friday in May. It was my first movie at the Bow Tie, and it exceeded my expectations – a large modern theater with pretty awesome seats, especially considering that it’s not part of a large chain like AMC or Regal.

After a case of an awesome dinner and bubble tea (to which I’m warming up to), we arrived uncharacteristically late and missed the trailers and the first 15 minutes of the movie, about where Tom Hanks’ character was sleeping like a bear, successfully missing the shuttle to his first appointment in Saudi Arabia.

I did not know anything about the movie before seeing it in theatre, did not see the trailer nor read any reviews, which again is atypical. We were actually planning to see The Huntsman: Winter’s War, but because by that time it was pulled from most theatres and the 16% rating it had on Rotten Tomatoes, we decided against it.

Since this is our first ever movie review, it is important to mention that we are not here to rate movies or convince you to watch this movie or the other, for at least three reasons: we are no movie critics, there are plenty more professional sites out there that can do that much better,  and we also think ratings are terribly subjective.


The movie is based on the 2012 novel of the same name written by Dave Eggers. It’s set a bit before 2010 and stars Tom Hanks as Alan Clay, a washed-up corporate businessman who lost his company, his house and his wife (who now hates him) and is trying to get back afloat and get his daughter through college. He goes to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with his team to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to the Saudi king to use in a new development he plans to build, a city called the King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade. The city is apparently a fictionalized version of King Abdullah Economic City.

Sarita Choudhury stars as the Saudi doctor that Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) visits about a lump he develops on his back on which he blames his current state of mind, and eventually falls in love with. The doctor, not the lump. Alexander Black’s character is the very funny taxi driver that drives Alan and shows him around his new surroundings.


It’s a movie about Tom Hanks’ character trying to find himself after a recent personal and professional failure, but also his apparent shame in not being able to support his daughter.

The acting was great, from all actors involved, but overall I found the movie very weird, with scenes jumping from one to the other with seemingly little connection to each other, nor probably telling as much as they were intended to. Again, since I did not even see the trailer, I obviously did not read the book. Maybe if I had, it would all make more sense. Either way, seeing that it’s a movie, it should have made sense without the viewer needing to read the book as well. It’s not Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, with volumes of content needing to be translated into the movie.

At one point I actually thought that maybe he is having some weird dream and that he might be hallucinating in a hospital somewhere. Not the case. Also, the movie is not your everyday comedy, apart from a few funny jokes and witty exchanges. So don’t go seeing it expecting laughter out loud.

If I knew what I know now before seeing it, I would have probably waited to watch it at home, if I would have watched it at all. However, it was filmed in Morocco and Egypt and has beautiful scenery and architecture. That alone makes it worth a try.

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