News of the World Develops Diverging Paths

If you close your eyes, you may think this is another Toy Story

News of the World was released in 2020, and was directed by Paul Greengrass. The film stars Helena Zengel as Johanna, and Tom Hanks as Captain Kidd. Going from town to town reading the news, in post Civil War Texas, war veteran Captain Kidd finds himself tasked with taking an orphaned girl to her family on a 400 mile journey. 

Hanks brings a resolved approach to Kidd, with several moments to help illustrate how this character adds to the world and setting around him. The chemistry between Hanks and Zengal is wonderful to watch unfold on screen, and Zengal is great in general. The storytelling of using these differing character arcs of the two main leads bring interesting perspective to dealing with the past and moving past our hardships is done well. 

On perspective, this is an interesting time to watch World, as it incorporates politics into the story in clever ways. Seeing the United States after the Civil War from the south’s perspective is a unique stage to set this story. It’s applicable to our modern political landscape even more so than the screenwriters must have intended, including many moments and lines of dialogue that can be used for the discussion of journalistic propaganda, our approach to leaving Afghanistan, and how our country seemingly continues to dive into division. 

While these moments are interesting, the story only loosely finds a way to connect them, as several parts of conflict only happen because the film thinks it needs major conflict to propel the narrative along. 

The cinematography and directing are fun to look at, and there is one scene in particular in which the staging excels. 

The ideas presented with News of the World are interesting, and it takes time to bring each character moments to understand each other and shine. Unfortunately, it’s impossible not to notice how a lot of the story relies heavily on the audience’s ability to suspend their disbelief, due to the constant reliance on out-of-nowhere problems occurring for our main characters, it struggles to keep that balance. 

[My grade for News of the World is a B-]

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