January 21, 2022

Actors life


News of the World review: Hanks should be making headlines for this performance

In a year when it has been proven that storytellers provide essential services, trust Tom Hanks to honour them in the grandest manner possible. News of the World, out on Netflix, is the actor’s third appearance in a streaming film in the last 12 months. It follows on Apple, and that unforgettable cameo in Amazon’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. America’s Dad is in proper paternal mode in director Paul Greengrass’ new drama, adapted from the Western novel by Paulette Jiles. He plays a Civil War veteran named Captain Jefferson Kidd, who makes a meagre living by travelling from frontier town to frontier town, reading the news to ‘anyone with 10 cents and the time to hear it’.

Captain Kidd lives a spare, solitary life, but in front of an audience, he transforms into a showman. News of the World is many things — a character study about a guilt-ridden man, a fable about fatherhood, a call-to-arms against right-wing propaganda — but I didn’t expect it to also be an origin story for prime time news anchors.

Fortunately, though, Captain Kidd is among the noblest characters that Hanks has ever played, which is saying something. He rides into town on his cart, checks into hotels owned by proprietors with whom he’s on a first-name basis, and then, in the evenings, he gets ready for the main event. Dressed in his Sunday Best, Captain Kidd sets up a desk with dozens of newspapers, hunches over them, and reads stories about famines and festivities, politics and people. His audience reacts as if they’re watching a movie; groaning and cheering at Captain Kidd’s tales.