News of the World

News of the World ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Paul Greengrass. Cast: Tom HanksHelena Zengel, Elizabeth MarvelRay McKinnon

A rather unusual choice for director Paul Greengrass who’s used to films with much stronger messages and energy. His handheld camera style of film-making is still present here, but in fact it feels rather at odds with the more old fashioned type of film that this is.

It’s amazing to think that this actually Tom Hanks’ first western. He plays Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a man at the end of the Civil War in the 1870s who drifts from town to town to read stories from newspapers to groups of people and gets paid for it. Basically it’s like a one-man show a sort of live theatre, or as he says: “Something to take us away from our troubles”. During his travels he comes across Johanna (the wonderful Helena Zengel from “System Crasher”), a little girl from an indigenous tribe which has been slaughtered by the settlers. Her parents have been killed too. Tom Hanks takes it upon himself to return her to her only known blood relatives miles away somewhere in Texas.

Along the way, through various adventures, the two of them will obviously bond in a sort of father-daughter relationship.

Tom Hanks is always a reliable and very likeable presence, and goes without saying that his subtle performance here leaves nothing to desire, particularly towards the last 3rd of the film where his mask really comes off and we see him for the broken man he really is. That’s not a spoiler really. Most of the film’s arc is fairly predictable and you won’t get any brownie points to guess where it’s all heading.

Having said that, the predictability of the plot itself doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of it. It is essentially a feel-good movie though a rather fluffy and quaint one. The two elements of the story, a man bringing the news to people and the relationship between the two characters, don’t really feel they are part of the same film and in the end I couldn’t help feeling that the intriguing premise about the travelling newsman (and the title itself) is slightly wasted for a more generic plot about 2 broken people basically finding each other.

The film comes out on Christmas Day on Netflix. Still worth a watch.

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