Tom Hanks and Director Paul Greengrass have combined to create a truly moving and memorable western which is one of the best films of 2020.
Hanks stars as Captain Kidd; a former Confederate Captain making his way in occupied Texas in the post-Civil-War era. Kidd travels from town to town reading various newspaper stories of interest to gathered locals who are too busy or unable to read the news and look forward to his lively interpretations of news of interest on a local and national level.
On his way to his next location; Kidd comes upon a fair skinned blonde girl wearing Native American clothing and speaking a tribal dialect he does not understand. The fact that their cart has been overturned and a lone male is hanging from a tree leads Kidd to uncover the tragic history of the child.
According to documents he discovers in the wreck; she was taken during a raid and her parents and sibling killed. The tribe that raised her was subsequently killed leaving her an orphan twice over. As such; the girl named Johanna (Helena Zengel); is to be taken to a nearby town and remanded to a local agency for transportation to an Aunt and her husband over 600 miles away.
Kidd sees it as his duty to take her to the nearby town which is confirmed by some passing Union soldiers who occupy the area during the Reconstruction era much to the scorn of the locals who are stinging from losing the Civil War.
Things do not go as planned as Kid is told that the authority in charge of such cases is away for three months so he must either wait or deliver the girl himself.
Thanks to the help of a former soldier under his command, Kidd sets out on the road to Dallas and then to the very dangerous areas beyond as he attempts to take Johanna to safety.
Along the way the two will face danger, challenges, and bond on a very memorable journey.
Hanks is very solid in the role and his character is compassionate yet complex. There is a reason for his generosity and he attempts to make peace with the pain and regret in his life by trying to do what is right and coming to terms with what has plagued him.
The film moves at a steady pace and does not have many extended action sequences but when action does arrive it is central to the story and never seems gratuitous.
Zengel is a great pairing with Hanks as the young German actress will be one to watch going forward. She is able to convey so much without an abundance of lines and you can clearly see how well she and Hanks clicked.
The visuals of the film are scenic as the audience really gets a look at the rugged beauty of the land and life during this era. It was fascinating to see what Dallas and San Antonio looked like in the 1860s after knowing them as the modern cities that they are today.
There is much to like about the film and I am eagerly putting “News of the World” on my best of 2020 list and I truly hope this film gets the recognition it deserves come awards time as it is truly a wonderful and inspiring film that is cinema at its finest.
4.5 stars out of 5