News of the World defeats expectations, creates unpredictability, precisely by following a formula. Precisely the formula for western films, where the slow tempo wraps around the protagonist’s journey across the wilderness of the wild west, while occasionally getting involved in a gun battle. The existence of Paul Greengrass, which is synonymous with kinetic style, even when the film does not feature the adventures of a Jason Bourne, gives expectations that the director will modify the above formula. It turned out the opposite. This adaptation of the novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles proves the versatility of Greengrass. Top Movie Site
Set in 1870, the story centers on Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a Confederate Civil War (1861-1865) veteran. The war made Kidd lose everything, both property and family. Now he moves from city to city, in order to earn money as a newsreader. Every night, Kidd gathered residents in a bar, then read the news from the newspapers. Maybe this is the origin of the news anchor profession on television?
Like most western films, News of the World also tackles “the search for a house” and “a better life”. For Kidd, the journey began after he found a little girl abandoned in the middle of the forest. The girl is named Johanna (Helena Zengel). From a letter, Kidd learned that Johanna was kidnapped by Indians from the Kiowa tribe, who also massacred their entire family. As a result, the communication process became difficult, because Johanna could only speak Kiowa.
Kidd, who has no other choice, is forced to take Johanna along, to drive him home. The question is, “what is back home”? Johanna’s biological parents are dead. The Kiowa tribe where he grew up does not exist anymore. Johanna is a girl of German blood, born in America, grew up with Indians. What is his definition of “home”? Kidd tries to save the lost girl, but he (and the rest of the country) are not much different. All get lost in the midst of uncertainty, as the country is reorganizing itself. Best Movie
Through a journey of nearly two hours, through hot wild landscapes that often look beautiful thanks to the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (known as Ridley Scott and Gore Verbinski’s regular), the script by Greengrass and Luke Davies (Life, Lion) brings his character to the understanding that ” home is a place where you belong “.
Kidd and Johanna belong together, as well as heal each other, in a heartfelt relationship thanks to Hanks and Zengel’s chemistry. The chemistry between a man who continues to advance on the surface of the earth, and a little girl who is one with the earth. Hanks as usual appeared warm, which made both the audience and Johanna feel safe and comfortable even though the wild west was full of distress. But the discussion on awards season seems to be filled with more about Zengel’s appearance. Making his Hollywood debut after lifting his name on System Crasher (2019), Zengel showed a wide range of acting. She can appear wild, then look empty and sad for a moment, then look innocent the next time.
If News of the World is Zengel’s media in his career, then for Greengrass, this film proves that he is not a single-trick filmmaker. Look at the gunfight, especially when Kidd and Johanna deal with three former Confederate troops. Instead of shaky cam, high tempo music, or frantic editing, Greengrass uses stillness in shooting, plus the mute of sound, to build intensity. The results are effective. Greengrass refrained from wearing his trademark, even while displaying a riot.
The only “modern twist” was the quantity of CGI use which was (slightly) more than the majority of western treats. That, too, is still with the appropriate dose. The rest, News of the World is a solid conventional western. In the future, every time we hear news of a new project from Paul Greengrass, we can expect shows with various variations. Movie Review