A Hologram for the King: What You Need to Know
Writer Dave Eggers’ slender and massively haunting A Hologram For the King is the kind of novel that stays with you forever.
At once hilarious and heart-breaking, the story of a washed-up American exec trying – and mostly failing – to find redemption in, of all places, Saudi Arabia, ticked every box on the creative writing best-practice checklist: palpable characters, real-world problems with illusory goals, snappy language, rare insight into the human condition and an ending that seared the soul.
So German director Tom Tykwer – best known for the white-knuckle drama Run Lola Run from 1998 – had his work cut out for him even before the reliably great Tom Hanks was confirmed to star in an adaptation of Eggers’ book. It hits DVD shelves on Monday (September 19th) and here is everything you need to know about it...
What's the plot?
Alan Clay’s life is a mess. He’s broke, despised by his ex-wife, chocking on his daughter's college fund and in need of a hit, so to speak. So he heads to Saudi Arabia in hopes of selling an advanced holographic teleconferencing system to King Abdullah and getting his career back on track.
Day after day, Clay and his three young associates sit idly by in a tent in the desert waiting for the King to arrive so they can show their wares. A metaphor for America’s decline – in his review for the New York Times in 2012, writer Pico Iyer called the book “a kind of ‘Death of a Globalized Salesman, alight with all of Arthur Miller’s compassion and humanism” – Hologram for the King is eerily of-the-moment, and recognizable to anyone who has sat in a meeting – at once consumed with ennui and bloodlust – as some glib hipster hotshot dropped empty acronyms.
Who's in it?
Hanks of course (he’s in every scene) plus Sarita Choudhury as his doctor, Ben Whishaw as a young techie, Tom Skerritt as his angry father and Alexander Black as Hanks' wise-acre driver, the latter particularly excellent.
Does it deliver?
Taken on its own, A Hologram For the King is a very good film – funny but also sad and terribly human. Those seeking a verbatim adaptation of the book won’t find it though it’s doubtful fans of source material will be able to resist having a look anyway.