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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#8 Hanks.




Watching the new Tom Hanks Netflix western drama, News Of The World, was an uncomfortable reminder of my expanding years.

I recently introduced our daughters to the delights of his piano-bouncing performance as the sparkly-eyed, curly-haired Josh Baskin in my favourite 80s film, Big.

Renting it out on VHS as a spotty teenager does not feel that long ago.

Yet, unbelievably, it's well over 30 years and Tom is now 64.

In this role, he has a fluffy white beard, weathered face and battered body.

He clambours gingerly on and off horses as a US Civil War veteran called Captain Jefferson Kidd.

Acting-wise, though, Hanks has aged well.

His alluring on-screen presence and sheer watchability remain as potent as ever - especially in those scenes when there’s not much happening.

The film is set in the wild, bloody and defeated American South of 1870.

Captain Kidd now makes a living traveling town to town reading newspapers for the local people.

The power of stories and information illuminating, enraging and entertaining the packed gatherings.

Following one such evening of news reading, he encounters an abandoned and troubled young girl named Johanna.

It transpires that she was abducted by a Native American tribe years ago and can’t speak a word of English.

Eventually, Kidd agrees to return Johanna to her surviving relatives.

They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.

This is a wonderfully shot, slow-burner of a film.

It’s tense and touching.

There are moments that reminded me of Castaway and Hank’s heartbreaking interactions with Wilson (‘WILLLLSOOOOOON!).

It's an earthy Western with deep spiritual themes at its heart.

For me, it’s about lostness - and the risks, the joys and the redemption there can be in seeking to be found.

Captain Kidd and Johanna have both suffered significant trauma in their lives. Unimaginable pain.

Yet there’s healing and hope in the miles they travel together.

In their interactions and shared experiences.

Their laughter and tears.

The remarkable journey of this truly odd couple reminded me of that inherent human desire for somewhere to belong - and for someone to belong to.

For most of us, I guess those instincts will always remain ageless.


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