A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING [a Film Review]

There are little feel-good films based in the Middle East. Nowadays, most of the films we watch depicts the Middle East as a potential war zone and third-world situation that pales in comparison to the technologically, economically advanced West. Along comes A Hologram for the King, starring Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Bridge of Spies), that offers a rather different look into the culture of Saudi Arabia through the prespective of a washed-up businessman looking to close a deal with the King of the country.

The plot is simple. A businessman, with troubles figuring out his own life, is sent to Saudi Arabia in hopes of meeting the elusive King, who hasn’t been back in the country for more than a year. Along the way, he meets up a happy-go-lucky driver hoping to change the world and a mysterious female doctor, while trying to fend of his own personal issues back home. All it takes, is to accept the country for the culture that it is and understanding its people for him to know what to do with his life. The film well-paced and focuses on the current premise, with only visual flashbacks to the past to provide audiences with some backstory. While the cues were not explicit, it is easy enough for viewers to understand them.

Tom Hanks stars as the main character in the film, with some other minor characters essential to the premise of the story. While the cast is not as star-studded as those that usually grace the big screen during this time of the year, the summer blockbuster season, Hanks’ performance as a struggling businessman is just as expected from a world-renowned actor. It is shocking to think that he has only won an Oscar once for Philadelphia two decades ago.

Overall, the film that started out gloomy and down manages to turn around to become a hope-filled, positively-vibed, feel-good 90-minute experience. While it is not action-packed or CGI-filled, this film, with its hopeful vibes, is still different from the usual films you would see during this time of the year. Definitely worth catching if you are looking to watch something less depressing or overly-dramatic.

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