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News Of The World (12, 118 minutes)
Five years after the end of the American Civil War a former Confederate captain makes loose change travelling from town to town across Texas and reading the world’s news from newspapers for working men without the time to read.
On his travels he discovers a long abandoned wagon and a fair headed 10-year old girl who has been raised by the Kiowa, a tribe of native Americans after the slaughter of her parents and younger sister.
He agrees to return the girl to surviving relatives and their dangerous journey across the plains sees the ageing soldier of a defeated army forging a connection with a child who has completely integrated into tribal life.
It would be easy to mistake this as the synopsis for a Jimmy Stewart western made anytime between 1952 and 62, but it’s Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass turning his hand to the genre in a second collaboration with 21st Century Stewart, Tom Hanks.
It’s no blockbuster and this is not the sort of film that makes a lot of noise at the box office, although on Netflix it could be a different story because the cinematography is striking in its stark and mostly depressing portrayal of the big country in 1870. When it’s not dry and dusty it’s muddy and when it’s not muddy it’s dry and dusty.
Hanks is quietly superb and young untrained German actress Helena Zengel has impressed so much she has been nominated for a Golden Globe.
The two carry the film. Anyone and anything else – even a gunfight in the mountains – is merely a bit player in the bigger story of their relationship and in turn how a man still referred to as “Captain” finds a purpose after a war he has long become weary of.
It may not be the edge of your seat espionage stuff one would expect from Greengrass, but News Of The World becomes very easy to invest in thanks to the strength of its lead characers.