Complete A-Z list

Hologram for the King, A


Stars: Tom Hanks, Sarita Choudhury, Alexander Black, Sidse Babette Knudsen, Tracey Fairaway, Khalid Laith, Tom Skerritt

Director: Tom Tykwer

This is an interesting and different dramedy, even if it does on occasion only escape tedium by a small margin. Central to the slowly unfolding events is US businessman Alan Clay (Hanks), who once ran his own firm but is now something of a dogsbody at a progressive IT company.

Divorced and with a 21-year-old daughter (Fairaway), Clay finds himself sent to Saudi Arabia to sell a new IT system to the king and his advisers. He immediately finds life there to be less predictable and more unevenly paced.

Jet-lagged from the start, he continually misses his shuttle to the rendezvous point and is picked up time and again by garrulous cabby Yousef (Black), whose taxi has a nodding camel in the window, and an endless supply of loud music that jars Clay's aching brains.

He arrives to find his team bereft of wi-fi, food or much else in the way of comforts, with the king a non-arrival today, tomorrow or even next week. 'We don't have unions here,' explains Yousef. 'We have Filipinos.'

Troubled by a growth on his back, Clay encounters an Arabian rarity, a lady doctor (Choudhury), with whom he will later explore a budding friendship - if he can break clear of non-appearances by the king and hangovers brought on by the local (illegal) rotgut.

Hanks makes the most out of this fish-out-of-water role, and Black is always good company, but other roles border on cyphers and there's a curious cameo from Ben Whishaw as the hologram of the title - a role absolutely anyone could have played.

David Quinlan

Germany/Morocco/Egypt/Saudi Arabia/ USA 2016. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour by Arri.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 May 2016