Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World is basically a 19th Century horseback relationship drama between a widowed Civil War veteran (Tom Hanks and a young German girl (Helena Zengel) who was taken from her parents and raised by Kiowas. Hanks’ Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who earns survival money by reading newspaper stories to small communities, struggles to deliver the girl (whose German name is Johanna) to a bumpkin aunt and uncle in southern Texas, seemingly in the vicinity of San Antonio. Difficulties abound, ornery varmints threaten, two or three rainstorms descend, physical disasters (including a blinding dust storm) keep a comin’.
Please answer (a) yes, (b) no or (c) disagree with an explanation:
1. Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World is basically a good film — sturdy, reliable, authentic, true-hearted.
2. The adjectives or phrases that come to mind are “assured,” “atmospherically authentic”, “properly attuned to the 19th Century pace of life”, “True Grit-ish” and “somewhat predictable but not in a￼ hugely problematic way.”
3. It’s a steady-groove, life-can-be-brutal, long-hard-journey thing. The performances, the screenplay (by Greengrass and Luke Davies), the cinematography and the trustworthy realism hold you.
4. Hanks’ Kidd character reminded you of Edmond O Brien’s Freeide Sykes in The Wild Bunch — yes, no, kind of, not really.
5. Hanks plays his usual patient, soft-spoken man of decency. Kidd is probably his best role and performance since…Cast Away?
6. News of the World is an entirely decent and respectable film. You can see where it’s heading from 100 miles away, but it’s the journey that counts.