Monday, January 18, 2021

Movie with Abe: News of the World

News of the World
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Released December 25, 2020

Studies in recent years have predicted that people in the near future will have more careers than ever before, and that some of those fields don’t even exist yet. While developing technology creates new possibilities, it also eliminates industries that may have previously thrived and served as a way of life for many. Internet and television news have gradually reduced the impact and profitability of printed publications, and widespread access to education means that a higher percentage of the American population can read. Those factors mean that traveling from town to town to read the news to an eager audience is a profession that simply no longer has any demand.

Civil War veteran Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) encounters a young girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), on his way from one Texas one to another. Kidd struggles to communicate with Johanna, who speaks no English and appears tied to many Native American customs learned from the people who took her from her natural-born family. After learning that an official reservation representative won’t be available for months, Kidd sets out to bring Johanna to her remaining living relatives himself, charting uncertain roads and dangerous threats along the way.

This film is mostly a two-person journey, following Kidd and Johanna as they navigate new territory and a developing relationship that primarily involves non-verbal communication. While there is much to be learned about each of them and how they see the world through their rapport, the most inviting aspect of this experience is its visual component. The landscapes and sunsets, assisted by a strong score, are particularly mesmerizing, conveying the true physical beauty of Kidd and Johanna’s surroundings even if the land is riddled with lawlessness and violence.

Hanks is an obvious choice for this role because of his generally likeable nature, adding humanity to the role of someone who would love only to look out for himself but can’t resist the urge to help those he sees in need. Zengel, like other young breakouts before her, is a recognizable talent in a part that makes the story more emphatic and engaging. This is a film that shines in specific moments that occur throughout its narrative, capturing a feeling of vastness and uncertainty as its characters travel the barren desert roads from town to town. Director Paul Greengrass, whose last collaboration with Hanks was “Captain Phillips,” presents another contemplative reflection on individuality in a place dominated by those who would rather not challenge the way things are.


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