Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2020
Directed by
Paul Greengrass
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

News Of The World

With Paul Greengrass, director of three Bourne films, United 93 (2006) and 2013’s Captain Phillips (which also starred Tom Hanks) at the helm of News Of The World you may well be expecting an intenesly amped-up action film. You’d be wrong.

Co-writer and director Greengrass’s film, adapted from a 2016 novel by Paulette Jiles, despite availing itself of the finest up-to-date film-making technology is very much in the traditional, pre-Peckinpah spirit of the genre. There are some killings, this is a Western after all, but they all happen to very bad men in very low lighting, and the overall trajectory of the story is towards an uplifting resolution, something rarely seen in the Western in recent years.

Hanks plays Captain in Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a peripatetic reader of the news who travels from town to town in post-Civil War Texas bringing the latest news, local and national, to the settlers for a fee of a dime.  One day he comes across a lynched Negro and a young girl (Helena Zengel) who speaks no English and appears to have been raised by Indians.  Unable to find anyone willing to look after her he decides to take her 400 miles to her only living kin.

It is a simple enough plot, a kind of road movie on horseback and Greengrass judiciously doesn’t strain to make it more than what it is although there is an nicely interwoven connection with America’s recent past in a sequence involving a confrontation with a backwoods tyrant and purveyor of fake news.

Hanks is central to the film’s success. His Captain Kidd is a down-to-earth individual who has survived the internecine conflagration of the Civil War and knows well its horrors. He also carries the sorrow of having abandoned his wife four years earlier to fight the war. In yet another strong performance Hanks captures Kidd’s melancholy pragmatism and hard-earned wisdom as well as the quietly-felt satifaction he finds in the companionship of the young girl. Onscreen with Hanks for much of the running time Zengel gives an impressively self-possessed  performance although I found her exotic looks just a little too distracting. Even within the unfolding of the narrative, her attractiveness is more or less commented upon, in one case leading to a gun battle with a trio of dirtbags. A plainer child would perhaps have made the film more affecting.

Notwithstanding, the fine cinematography by Darius Wolski and an empathetic score from James Newton Howard add to the overall polish of Greengrass’s engaging film.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst