News of the World is a Western drama starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. The cast also includes Bill Camp, Ray McKinnon, and Mare Winningham. Not only did Paul Greengrass direct this film, he also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Luke Davies. It is based on a novel by Paulette Jiles.
The story takes place not long after the end of the Civil War, and Hanks plays a veteran who makes his living traveling to small towns to bring news of events from around the world. He is asked to take a young girl who lived in a Native American tribe for several years to her only living relatives in the San Antonio area. The journey of course contains much peril and disaster, or it would be a tough movie to sit through.
Although it has a bit of a slow start, this movie did not end up being that tough to sit through. There is some amazing scenery long the way of what is supposed to be Texas High Plains. The film was shot in New Mexico mostly, but it works. Unsurprisingly, Hanks puts in a strong performance. The kid, Helena Zengel, was also quite the find. She is actually a 12 year-old German actress, which works nicely because the character’s family were apparently German immigrants or of that particular lineage.
This type of film seems to be quite a departure from where we usually see Tom Hanks, however he carries it well as expected. I was also drawn to the rather unusual occupation of his character, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd. I presume such news readers actually existed at one time, but this was the first I had ever heard of such a thing.
It turns out this film is something I am finding myself appreciating more when I look back on it. There are some elements of the film that take some patience, and there are some coincidental lucky escapes that are sometimes a little hard to buy into completely. These minor flaws actually aren’t too distracting, and I probably only notice them because I know I am going to present a blog. Anyway, the gist here is that this film does deserve some attention.