This awkwardly titled flick – based on the popular novel – is a quirkily low-key, fish-out-of-water dramedy that falls somewhere (more positively) between Bill Murray’s brilliant, fish-out-of-water, Lost in Translation and Bill Murray’s fairly embarrassing, fish-out-of-water, Rock the Kasbah. This fish may occasionally flounder due to hurried plot points, forced encounters and a scattershot storyline (meant to mirror the main character’s experience in Saudi Arabia, I imagine) – but it’s also kept alive by a sharply focused and poignant performance from Tom Hanks – a washed-up tech salesman dealing with/running away from troubles back home and grappling with isolation, clarity and a sense of purpose on foreign soil. As he almost exclusively does, Hanks instills a great deal of charm to the proceedings and earns my mild recommendation to, at the very least, catch it when it hits Blu-ray in the very near future.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sarita Choudhury and Alexander Black
Directed by: Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas and Run Lola Run)
Running time: 1hr. 30min.
Story: Cultures collide when an American businessman is sent to Saudi Arabia to close what he hopes will be the deal of a lifetime. Baffled by local customs and stymied by an opaque bureaucracy, he eventually finds his footing with the help of a wise-cracking taxi driver and a beautiful Saudi doctor. (Roadside Attractions)