The Post (produced in under a year and not quite as timely as you'd expect) tells the story of the Pentagon Papers, a classified report on the fallings of the Vietnam War. When they are leaked to the
With his latest film Stephen Spielberg has amassed a mighty cast, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks taking centre stage as newspaper owner and editor. It feels remarkable that the pair have never appeared in a film together. Hanks rolls up his sleeves, gives his voice a growling lilt and adds a hulking authority to his posture as editor Ben Bradlee, while Streep’s Kay Graham transitions from a meek, nervous figure, out of place in the environment she finds herself in, to one that exudes a clarity of judgement. They are as good as you would expect Streep and Hanks to be.
The supporting cast is an ensemble of some of the finest actors from the last decade of American TV (American Crime Story’s Sarah Paulson, Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford, The American’s Matthew Rhys, GLOW’s Alison Brie, Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons, Arrested Development’s David Cross) and there isn’t a weak part here: the acting is universally strong throughout.
The film is at its best as a genuinely affecting tribute to journalism and the necessity of a free press for a democracy. The camera lovingly lingers over the production of the Washington Post, oozing a nostalgia for a mechanical process that technology has now surpassed. One of the most interesting discussions that runs through the film is whether there is a story worth telling that is more important than the survival of the medium it is being told through. On the flip side of this what the film truly lacks is the necessary drama to make the thriller elements work. The audience is never in any doubt how the film will end, which path Streep’s Kay will decide to take her newspaper down. Exceptional true story films are the ones where you can’t predict how the ending will be reached and this is not the case with Spielberg’s film.
In the final moments The Post knocks on the door of the mighty All The President’s Men, acting as a sort-of Rogue One style prequel to the latter. It never matches that 70s classic nor the more recent Spotlight. It feels like this film only exists because of who currently resides in The White House, limiting the impact the film has. The film does give us fine performances from Hanks and Streep and is not without its merits but lacks the feeling of necessity that other tributes to journalistic prowess have.