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The News of the World

The Western has been a genre that refuses to fade. Extremely popular around the early to mid 20th Century, the decades since have seen it gradually decrease in output. Modern westerns are few and far between making ‘News of the World’ stand out. Based on Paulette Jiles’ novel, it has the feel of the classic famed director John Ford-style Westerns he used to make. In the CGI enhanced 21st Century, ‘News of the World’ provides a welcome respite from the glut of superhero movies vying for viewer’s attentions.

In 1870, Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kidd (Tom Hanks) travels the country reading newspapers to the populace for a price. After an evening reading, he sets off to his next destination. While doing so he meets lost young girl Johanna (Helena Zengel). Based on the few clues he has to her background, he sets out to reunite her with her family as they travel the wild west and all it entails.

Directed by Paul Greengrass, ‘News of the World’ is basically a story about two lonely people. Both have past issues to resolve preventing them from truly moving forward. Their growing partnership potentially gives them the courage to face their demons. Hank’s calm ‘everyman persona’ gets another airing with the reliable performer working well against Zengel’s mostly silent character.

Like most Westerns, ‘News of the World’ also works due to its scenery. The location shooting in New Mexico is its own character, having its own effect on those inhabiting it. Dust-storms, floods and heat are a few of the hurdles all have to overcome, with nature’s fury just as potent as the wayward humans the central duo encounter. These are all effectively seen as the story gradually draws you in without feeling slowly paced.

Having directed the ‘Bourne Identity’ films, ‘News of the World’ is a change of pace for Director Greengrass. It’s all the better for the slow-burning narrative as the atmosphere and cinematography capture the story’s themes well. Almost as old as movies itself, the Western genre may have its ebbs and flows of popularity but will endure as long as there are still tales to tell about how wild the West can be.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

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