Monday, 25 September 2017

A Hologram for the King (4 Stars)

Sometimes a film slips under the radar. It comes and goes without anyone noticing it was there. The film might have a big star like Tom Hanks, but in the modern world's mass production of films there are just too many for people to see all of them. A $35 million budget and less than $8 million was earned at the box office. That's unfair for a gem like this.

Tom Hanks plays Alan Clay, a salesman who travels to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic conference system to the king. What he finds when he arrives is beyond his belief. When he visits the "king's city" he finds a building site in the middle of the desert, and he's told that the king hasn't been there for 18 months. There's a shallow front of religiousness; when he asks for a beer he's told that alcohol is illegal, but Saudi businessmen have well stocked drink cabinets in their offices.

Tom's best friend in Saudi Arabia is Youssef, a taxi driver who loves American music. Youssef helps Alan to understand the mysteries of Saudi culture, while giving him a rifle to shoot wolves at night. Nevertheless, Tom stumbles around like a sleep walker, unable to understand the bizarre things that happen around him.

Tom has a business meeting on the fifth floor of an unfinished building. No elevator, so he has to use the stairs. On the way he passes building workers beating up one of their colleagues. Keep moving, Tom, don't get involved.

Western comforts will be offered. Eventually.

In Saudi Arabia even the roads are segregated.

Tom does his best to fit in. The look suits him.

I almost forgot to mention that the film is a love story. When Tom is taken ill he meets a beautiful Saudi Arabian doctor. Is it inappropriate for a doctor to have an affair with her patient? Maybe it is in Europe, but in Saudi Arabia it's allowed. I should consider moving.

I can understand the attraction. She has beautiful eyes.

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