The Reel Review


A Civil War veteran working as a newsreader to politically divided towns throughout Texas finds himself on a life changing journey after he meets a young girl raised by Native Americans who had killed her family and kidnapped her as an toddler. He agrees to take this twice-orphaned girl, who speaks only the language of her adopted Kiowa tribe, across the dangerous hill country of West Texas to find her next of kin. It is based on the 2016 novel by Paulette Jiles.

Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel in News of the World.

The beautiful thing about this old fashioned Western from co-writer/director Paul Greengrass is its subtle attention to detail – be it the nuanced performances from Hanks, young Helena Zengel, and the ensemble cast; the solid production details; the stirring score from James Newton Howard (Maleficent, The Prince of Tides) or the gorgeous cinematography. Yes, the story is very predictable (you can probably guess the outcome before you finish this review) but it is done in such an exceptionally good way it is a joy to experience from start to finish. The only negative – a slightly sluggish second act.

Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel in News of the World.

And as good as it is, it is the clever, underlying message, of a lonely newsreader using his wits to combat fake news and help unite people during another politically volatile era, that makes this Western set in post Civil War 1870 just as timely 150 years later.


• Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass also worked together in the 2013 thriller Captain Phillips.

Helena Zengel in 2019’s System Crasher.

• In 2019, German-born Helena Zengel became the youngest actress ever to win Germany’s Best Leading Actress Lola for her performance in the film System Crasher. 

• Although set in Texas, News of the World was filmed in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico and features members of the Kiowa tribe, who served as consultants on the film.

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