Movie Review – News of the World – 2020 – Tom Hanks pulls off another stunner!
My Rating : 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – News of the World
Tom Hanks had two releases in 2020, Greyhound and now News of the World (strategically released on Christmas Day, 2020). Based on the novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles, the incidents take place in Texas, in the 1870s and is an eminently watchable movie, not least because of Tom Hanks’s soothing presence. Directed by Paul Greengrass – (he’d also directed Tom Hanks in Captain Philips‘), this is a different genre, but equally well put together by the team.
Tom Hanks essays the role of Captain Jefferson ‘Kyle’ Kidd, a Civil War veteran, who goes around Texas reading newspapers, periodicals, etc. Stark reminder of the times when human society did not have digitized access to information or entertainment and had to rely on the printed word for their news, which would often reach the distant parts long after the incident has happened. Captain Kidd would travel across the dusty towns and hamlets, and with the populace being largely illiterate, would pay to hear him read out what was happening in the US and other parts of the World.
During one such journey between towns, Kidd comes across a damaged buggy and discovers a macabre sight. The Black buggy driver has been hung from a nearby tree and there’s a small blond-haired girl lurking nearby! Kidd catches the girl only to find that she’s of German ancestry but kidnapped at a young age and brought up by the Kiowa Indians, whose reservation is nearby. Due to such unusual circumstances, the girl can’t speak a word of English and the only family she’s known are Kiowa.
The documents on her person show her name as Johanna Leonberger and says she was being taken to her distant Aunt and Uncle for reunion, after US Soldiers rescued her and her Kiowa family was killed at the time of the mishap. The unlikely pair now have to travel over 400 miles of harsh terrain, frequented by lawless bandits and disgruntled soldiers. Neither of them are sure that even if they make it across such a challenging journey, a warm welcome would await them. The narrative is soothing to the senses and the viewer is drawn into the story from the beginning.
See all those words printed in a line one after the other? Put ’em all together and you have a story.Captain Kidd to Johanna in News of the World
Conclusion – Movie Review – News of the World
The movie is eminently watchable, though the story isn’t exactly earth shattering or full of unexpected twists and turns. But that does not take much away from the narrative. The cinematography is excellent, the lamp lit dark nights at local pubs and the sweeping vistas of the prairie look magical, due to that. Tom Hanks, as usual, owns the role. His grace, charm and absolute absorption of the character and its nuances make for entertaining viewing. Paul Greengrass’s direction, if not completely flawless, is quite good and has done a commendable job with the story. The period sets are authentic and not for once, strike a false note.
This is well recommended for a watch, especially for Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel (Johanna) – this being her first English language movie – both have done a fabulous job. Even other character actors have also done their work beautifully, with nobody ringing a false note. The climax or the last few scenes ring with poignancy and are really heartwarming! Here’s signing off with a message of HOPE for the New Year!!
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