Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” leads off this story about Alan Clay (Tom Hanks), a divorced salesman at a “Well, how did I get here?” crossroads. Fortunately, Hanks—reunited with Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer, adapting Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel—pulls together this odd contraption, which follows Alan as he tries to resurrect his crumbling career by negotiating a sale of IT infrastructure to the King of Saudi Arabia for a massive proposed city. Surreal elements flit through the narrative, from that opening music-video-cum-nightmare to the nature of a large lump in the middle of Alan’s back, as well as the bureaucracy of this would-be oasis. It could have — and probably even should have — played as little more than a sadsack mid-life crisis, given a little exoticism by Alan’s interactions with the locals, including a kindly doctor (Sarita Choudhury). But Hanks sells it with his commitment to playing an old-school, “where ya from” salesman in a new kind of world. There are times when watching him act is enough, even when there are times that he’s the only thing in this Hologram that feels real (97 min.).
Director: Tom Tykwer
Producer: Uwe Schott, Stefan Arndt, Arcadiy Golubovich, Tim O'Hair, Gary Goetzman, Steven Shareshian, Gaston Pavlovich, Claudia Bluemhuber, Irene Gall, Gero Bauknecht, Jim Seibel, Bill Johnson and Shervin Pishevar
Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Knudsen, Tracey Fairaway, Jane Perry, Tom Skerritt, Ben Whishaw and David Menkin