News of the World
This is one of those films that ends with most of you smiling as you murmur, “I really liked that movie.”
To begin with, any movie starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass commands my attention. Hanks’ resume speaks for itself while Greengrass brought us such inventive historical films like United 93 (2006) and 22 July (2018).
Here, we watch Hanks play Captain Jefferson Kidd, a retired Army Officer traveling through Texas in 1870. He makes a living holding meetings in various towns as he reads accounts from national newspapers.
A widower racked with guilt as his life turns upside down when he comes across a 10- year-old girl hiding near a burned wagon with a man hanging in a tree. She speaks no English resulting from being kidnapped by Kiowa Indians and raised as a member of their tribe years earlier.
The movie unfolds as Captain Kidd forces the angry young girl to travel with him as he seeks out her aunt and uncle to raise her. His hands are full as this lass has had two sets of parents killed resulting in a fiery attitude.
Hanks is marvelous as expected, trying to save his companion as he encounters bandits and desperados on their journey. But it is the performance of Helena Zengel as the 10-year-old that will win your heart. Known as Johanna, she is a handful for Hanks to handle morning, noon and night.
However, it is fair to say that it is their evolving interaction that brings a parental love story to the screen that has to be seen to be believed. 1870 was a heart-breaking world, particularly in small towns and rural areas, and you watch a father/daughter relationship evolve where death waited around every corner.
At the center of this film is a description of life in our country that we see today. People worked from morning until night to carve out a living and unhappiness overwhelmed many. Racism prevailed with the end of slavery. Captain Kidd and young Johanna found a way to bring a bit of joy to strangers’ lives and this movie will likely do the same for you.