A film, stranded as its lead, in the strange desolation of Dave Eggers' prose, with a mandate to idiosyncrasy. Tom Tykwer soon establishes a rhythm and a tone that fulfill that mandate, as the experienced cinephile might expect of him; and who better than this director to craft a work so fulsome in its design, from material so reticent to assist. Tykwer's films aren't just mere dabblers in the art of emotional architecture, they're devotees of it. Few working filmmakers today examine the influence of our immediate surroundings on our mental state with such depth and with such detail as Tykwer, and A Hologram for the King is a consistently interesting, surprising continuation of this artistic obsession. There's a vibrancy to every moment, every movement, that is matched by the tone of the film - buoyant, ebullient, sun-drenched and silly. As per, the bigger the budget, the less the strain on the filmmakers' collective creativity; one rather wishes to feel some sense of resistance in A Hologram for the King, some grit, some flaw in the construction that might better reflect the protagonist's feeling of depressed dislocation. We observe his ennui without ever engaging in it, and the film's odd lack of ambition is uncovered in its inability to approach this topic from another angle, or arguably at all. For something so apparently esoteric in style and content, A Hologram for the King is unusually entertaining, in a very commercial manner, and not unwelcomely so. 'Strange... surprising... odd... unusual:' on paper (or on screen), it's literally all of the above. In person, though, this is a most affable, enjoyable film, and all the more surprising for that.