News of the World

2020, USA, 118 min.

In hardscrabble, quick-to-anger, post-Civil War America, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) travels to isolated outposts to read from newspapers for audiences hungry for information. On his latest business trip, the middle-aged, peripatetic Kidd finds a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) abandoned in the woods. Kidd learns Johanna was to be delivered to her German immigrant relatives after being kidnapped by a Kyowa tribe, whom she now considers her true family. The grizzled Civil War veteran unwillingly becomes the girl’s temporary caretaker, navigating the dangerous Texas terrain to bring young Johanna to an unfamiliar home while figuring out how to break through her taciturn, nearly uncommunicative personality. Paul Greengrass’ Western could be construed as a thinly veiled but potent parable of today’s politically fractured climate, but it succeeds as a tender, reflective tale of two lost souls finding emotional sustenance in the wreckage of their lives. Greengrass eases his trademark jumpy, taut, directorial style to craft a stirring reminder that it’s never too late to make ourselves whole. Hanks and Zengel are terrific. Based on Paulette Jiles’ novel.