News of the World is perhaps one of the most relaxing films of director Paul Greengrass, who looks at his past filmography full of fast-paced as well as thrilling action such as The Bourne Ultimatum , Green Zone and Captain Phillips . If we are used to seeing him always rely on his hand-held camera which produces a scene that is agile and shaking, here we see him who is much calmer by letting the tempo of the story move by itself.
Based on the novel of the same name written by Paulette Jiles in 2016, Paul Greengrass returns to work with Tom Hanks, who now plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former soldier who now works by visiting cities to read the newspapers he owns from various states in in front of the crowd of townspeople he visited. “I know how life is here, working from sunrise to sunset. There is no time to read the newspapers. Let me do it for you. And maybe, for tonight, we can run away from the problem and hear the big changes that are happening out there, "Kidd said as he started his job.
One day while riding his horse, he came across a broken carriage by the side of the road and a black man who had been hanged from a nearby tree, with the poster “Texas says no! This is a state for whites. " On the train, Kidd meets Johanna Leonberger (Helena Zengel), a girl who is a prisoner for the Kiowa tribe and has now been stranded on her own. Speaking no English and having no clear purpose, Kidd decided to drive him to his family in Castroville, far from their current location. And began their second adventure, across the vast land of America.
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Knowing Paul Greengrass, we might expect there will be a lot of gunfights that occur on the screen and Tom Hanks becomes Clint Eastwood with his gun. But no, apparently. There were some gunfights going on, but they were not overwhelming and dominating. We are presented more with the beautiful, expansive views of America in 1870 by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski's clear and mesmerizing clarity. The western genre is indeed common in utilizing the vastness of the desert for an attractive shot, and News of the World manages to present a beautiful world in its visuals.
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It also helps in evoking the calming feeling of the film. During the two hours of this film running, I felt a reassuring feeling. To see Kidd and Johanna interact even though the two of them do not understand the language of each other, to see them riding their horse-drawn carriages in front of the vast expanse of desert, to see them visit the cities while seeing Kidd reading a newspaper and telling a story he had heard or read in front of the townspeople who are always amazed to hear it. The world of the western genre is indeed very unique and beautiful, and we are given the opportunity to really get into it.
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The structure of News of the World feels like several different parts, where one problem with another that Kidd and Johanna faced feels like a different episode, but that doesn't mean they don't matter to the main story. Every problem and obstacle he encounters is important because it helps our two characters to develop from each other in the story. Kidd and Johanna are two characters who have a dark history, and this journey helps them to go beyond their personal problems and that's where the story of this film comes to life.
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The storyline is not as lightning fast as the previous films, and Paul Greengrass chose to present a story that allows the characters in it to truly live out the story and the narrative that it goes through with the subtle but strong appearance of the two main stars of this film. Tom Hanks has the capacity to play a character who is smooth and gentle as well as being agile and fierce, and that's why Jefferson Kyle Kidd's character suits him so well because with this character we perfectly see how he is able to take advantage of his tenderness and ferocity.western .
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Not inferior to Hanks is Helena Zengel, a German actress who is still 12 years old but can compensate for Tom Hanks' strong presence with his ability to bring Johanna's character to life. She doesn't move much, doesn't talk much, but only from the emotions she generates, from every word she says, we can immediately feel sympathy and connect with Johanna. Our feelings for the characters easily grow every time the film runs until finally we always support and always wish the best for him whenever we see them encounter problems.
At the core of the story, News of the World can be said to seem a cliché because it has a story premise that is similar to other films with similar stories. But what's great about this film is how I was made to ignore the cliché, because I was committed to always supporting Kidd and Johanna to find a happy and happy ending, no matter if it ended up being a cliché or not. This is a western film that not only makes the audience feel good in the end, but is a truly fulfilling journey.
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