Tom Hanks plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in Director Paul Greengrass’s (Captain Phillips) moving western.
Set in Texas 1870, not long after the Civil War, Kidd makes his money by traveling from town to town to read newspapers to people thirsty to hear about goings-on beyond their own small universe.
He has a strong, commanding voice and his eager audience reacts to every word. Kidd tells a good story, and folks line up to pay ten cents for the news.
On his travels, Kidd happens upon a murdered Black man. A young blonde girl (Helene Zengel) is hiding close by and puts up a fight when he tries to get her to safety.
The girl was taken from her German immigrant parents by Indians and lived with them until the Tribe members were killed. She’s dressed in Indian garb, speaks only Kiowa and doesn’t remember her dead parents.
Kidd calls the child Johanna and although she resists him at every turn, is tasked with bringing her to live with her aunt and uncle.
The gorgeous landscapes belie the reality of their dangerous trip. They encounter some pretty rough characters and a smarmy trio who want to buy the girl. But throughout, Kidd shows a loving, caring side.
Hanks is terrific as Kidd. His face shows every emotion. It’s a very strong performance.
Zengel is also a gem. Her character is feisty and stubborn and since she only speaks the few English words that Kidd teaches her, she relies on her expressive face to talk for her.
It’s a beautifully made film with exceptional acting. A very satisfying experience.