Streep, Hanks, and Spielberg … I’m sold.
Synopsis: Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post, a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee, as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light. (20th Century Fox)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Bob Odenkirk
Writers: Liz Hannah and Josh Singer
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 116mins
For showtimes and more, check out The Post on movietimes.com.
This film could not be more timely in this political climate with the persecution of the press. It has an important message which was why director Steven Spielberg accelerated the project to get it ready for the end of 2017. The parallels between the film’s story and today are obvious to anyone vaguely aware with the news. Kay Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of the Washington Post, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) work to expose a cover up involving United States government secrets spanning many decades and several presidents.
With any film about journalism, it is easy to thing about another recent film, 2015 Best Picture winner Spotlight (co-written by the same co-writer of this film). While this film treads similar ground, The Post is different in that it focuses on the reporters working to expose the story rather than the story itself at the expense of its historical impact. Graham, running the newspaper as a female after the death of her husband, was learning how to run a newspaper while having to prove herself in a male-dominated industry. Bradlee was veteran editor who had to learn to work with Graham. Their dynamic was the best part of the film as they brought out the best of each other.
Not only was the film about exposing the government cover up, it was also about the prominence of the Washington Post and the importance of free press. Trying to keep up with the New York Times and other national newspapers, the Washington Post would constantly get scooped. The newspaper scenes were interesting to watch as we learned the inner workings of a newsroom and how a newspaper is published. After the New York Times faced opposition from the Nixon-led government for publishing a series of classified government documents, the same documents that they were pursuing fell in their lap. The question now was whether or not to publish the documents.
This question weighed heavily as the film took the time to carefully consider all sides of the argument and the potential circumstances for doing so for Graham, Bradlee, and the newspaper. The mostly dialog-driven plot may not necessarily be for everyone but the idea of whether or not to publish that dominated the second half of the film was suspenseful to watch. The great score and camerawork framed scenes in a way that made them captivating to watch beit big dialog scenes or other sequences. However, the film would occasionally take it too far, bordering on being too preachy with some heavy handed dialog and a sometimes overbearing score.
The characters of Graham and Bradlee aren’t the most developed on an emotional level, however, Streep and Hanks’ performances more than made up for it. Graham’s journey to find her own voice was compelling to watch but this journey lacked in emotion as the film rushed her inner conflict leading to her decision to publish. There wasn’t much else to Bradlee other than his pursuit of the truth which was fine.
The best part of the film, as mentioned, was Streep and Hanks as Graham and Bradlee. Streep was excellent in her portrayal of Graham, a strong-willed yet flawed woman, learning about her new job and herself along the way. Hanks was equally as excellent as the grizzled Bradlee. He was the main proponent of the film’s message and his determination in that regard was fun to watch. The film was at its best whenever Streep or Hanks was on screen (at least one of them were in most of the scenes). The film also boasts one of the best supporting casts for a film, featuring countless big names but the best of them was Bob Odenkirk as Bradlee’s right-hand man Ben Bagdikian.
Overall, this was an important and timely film that arguably preaches a little too much at times that is still compelling to watch thanks to Streep, Hanks, and Spielberg but loses its emotional impact at the expense of its message.