“News of the World” follows Tom Hanks as he moves from town to town, reading the news to those who are too busy or unable to read the local, state, and federal news. His character, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd reads with great enthusiasm — he is a spectacular storyteller. Hanks’ 12-year-old co-star, Helena Zengel, plays twice orphaned Johanna Leonberger. Both performers and their performances keep the audience engaged, earning the actors and film a 5-star rating.
Hanks, like most others in the film, lost everything during the Civil War; his wife and business. In his travels, Capt. Kidd comes upon a wrecked wagon; he spies a lynched Black man and hears someone scurrying away. Hanks pursues the sound to discover a young, fearful girl with the brightest blue eyes.
Immediately, Hanks realizes she does not speak English and as the film moves along, the audience experiences the joy of watching someone learn a new skill. She shares her language, Kiowa, with him, and he teaches her English as they traverse the untamed landscape of Texas.
The duo meets with heartbreak, fear, and unwanted memories. As Zengel begins to relax in Hanks’ company, her feelings become easier to see. On the other hand, even with a full beard, Hanks’ ever-present visual cues — his eyes, posture, and general demeanor — reveal his feelings.
Throughout their adventure, the bond between them grows; they become dependant on one another’s presence. Even though the film’s storyline seems like it is based on a true story, “News of the World” is based on Paulette Jiles’ fictional novel of the same name.
Hanks is a skilled actor who appears comfortable portraying a myriad of different character types. He portrayed a young man pretending to be a woman in “Bosom Buddies,” and he has been stranded on a desert island with only a basketball to keep him company in “Wilson.”
Hanks earned his chops and grew his fanbase with each new movie and the amazing ability to make audiences believe each uniqueness of his characters is part of his own persona.
Twelve-year-old Zengel is a Hollywood newbie. “News of the World” is her 10th film credit; all previous projects are foreign-based.
During an interview, she talks about what it is like to work with Hanks. In the film Capt. Kidd must grab her clothing or the back of her neck to “encourage” her cooperation and to keep her from running away. She told ABC Chicago how that felt:
Well, you know, sometimes a little wearied, always having somebody grabbing you at the neck, and pulling you around but I did know the way so I could follow him, so I wouldn’t feel it. And always he was really soft, so it was all good.
“Since this is Tom Hanks we’re talking about, kindness is the dominant note, and the drama arises less from the character’s internal ethical struggle than from the external challenges he faces in his quest to do the right thing,” writes movie reviewer A.O. Scott for The New York Times.
Google reports 85 percent of its users like the movie. Prashast Singh wrote:
The film’s plot centers around a journey, and hence it feels like a collection of several episodes, which is suitable given the theme. The score by James Newton Howard is captivating, and a reason enough to stay during the credits. The cinematography is splendid, capturing the picturesque locales with brilliance. Editing is also good, as the pacing doesn’t remain the same throughout and changes as per the scenes, which becomes evident especially during the action sequences.
Vikas Joshi’s review includes:
“Find where you belong.” These lines are quite a clear intro to this remarkable piece of cinema. Oscar-winner iconic actor Tom Hanks & Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass worked again and delivered yet another top-notch cinematic piece. [he best] thing about this movie is its very feel which is about finding your way in other words movie directly quotes that it’s not the relations [that] binds the people but it’s the humanity [that] does.
God works in mysterious ways one can’t expect how long a journey will last or how two strangers could develop an unbreakable bond more immaculate than any other thing. Tom Hanks is a great actor his movies have [a] real intro of life lessons and ]the] same is here life is mysterious no one knows how agonizing it could be and at [the] same time how blessed it could have been.
When watching the film, my husband and I were moved to tears several times. We found ourselves in awe of Hanks’ ability to show his emotions without outwardly expressing them. He and Zengel were in synch with one another’s character, which credits not only the actors but also the director.
Hanks is one of my favorite actors. No matter what character or storyline he is performing, I watch him; a few films do not make it to my “watch again list,” but most do. I highly recommend “News of the World” to Hanks’ fans and soon-to-be fans — because if a person is not a fan before viewing this amazing movie, they likely will.
The film was released on December 25, 2020, and is now available to rent on YouTube, Vudu, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime Video.
Review by Cathy Milne-Ware
ABC News: ‘News of the World’ star talks about making film with costar Tom Hanks; by Janet Davies
IMDb: ‘News of the World;’ Tom Hanks; Helena Zengel
The News York Times: ‘News of the World’ Review: Tom Hanks Does the Strong, Silent Type; by A.O. Scott
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Lauren Ayres’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by John Bauld Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image by Harald Krichel Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License