‘News of the World’ Review: Storytelling at Its Very Best

News Of The World

When I heard that Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass were pairing up for another film, I knew it would be one worth seeing. Their last collaboration in 2013 brought us Best Picture nominee Captain Phillips. And this new project, News of The World, which releases on Christmas Day, is based on the National Book Award finalist and best-selling novel by Paulette Jiles. With all of these pieces coming together, it just felt like the perfect recipe for a strong film.

News of The World is set five years after the end of the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of the world – from presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. While he’s in Texas, he crosses paths with a young girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who was taken in and raised by the Kiowa people six years earlier.

Johanna is to be returned (against her will) to the only family she has left – her biological aunt and uncle. Kidd agrees to deliver the child to her family. And as they travel hundreds of miles across the state – they find themselves facing several challenges of both natural and human origin.

Check out the trailer below.

Trailer

News of the World Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like

At its core, this film is a Western that takes a deep dive into empathy and morality. And there’s no better actor for that role than Tom Hanks, who delivers another spectacular job on this title.

The only thing I can say that is rather critical is that this is a slow-moving film. It’s not your typical western with cowboys taking off on a crazy adventure. Instead, it’s a heartwarming tale of redemption (that, yes, does have a few “thrilling” moments of adventure thrown in). It also looks at the consequences of disinformation, which given our current political state, is an interesting topic to explore in a period piece…. It seems we haven’t really learned a lot over the centuries.

The storytelling, the acting, the cinematography – everything comes together in this film to create a rather beautiful and poignant work of art. And while the pace is slow, it’s that pace that allows for some of the best character development I’ve seen on screen in a long, long time. Kidd’s interactions with Johanna force him to deal with his own emotional baggage that he’s had locked away. And as their journey progresses, Kidd’s heart warms, and you see him start to come back to life. At the same time, you see Johanna learn to trust again. It’s just a very human story filled with a lot of heart and hope.

Overall Thoughts

News of the World isn’t an overly exciting film, but on a technical level – from writing to acting to filming – it’s pure brilliance. I would expect us to see this one nominated for multiple categories come award season.

News of the World Review:

Grade: A-

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