Paul Greengrass directs Tom Hanks, Helena Zengal and Elisabeth Marvel in this Western where an itinerant man, who reads newspapers aloud to illiterate communities, takes on the stewardship of a young orphan raised by the Kiowa tribe who killed her settler family.
A gentle, tactful western… a 21st century reversal of The Searchers where the Civil War veteran attempts to repatriate a lost daughter rather than hunt her down, unsure of what ‘home’ now exists for her with her adopted culture displaced and her blood relatives distant uncertainties. This is easily Greengrass’ warmest, most accessible work… the few sops to action are involving and sustained but the real danger is ‘the civilised world’. Laws and rights and technology have yet to create a safety net out in the Midwest, so we watch a broken man and a confused young girl traverse various threat filled interactions. There is much allegorical mirroring to current woes: mentions of a blighting disease bookend the story, a Trumpian bossman played by Thomas Francis Murphy dominates a central chapter. Decency personified, Tom Hanks fits this kind hearted but vulnerably intelligent lead role to a tee and Helena Zengal aims successfully for expressive rather than cute in a rare decent child acting turn. Nothing happens in News Of The World that reinvents the wheel or usurps the greats of this genre but it is an inarguable quality release that fills an evening nicely.
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We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/