Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Stars: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood
The much anticipated Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” starring for the first time together Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks is about a cover-up that spanned four US Presidents pushing the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between Journalist and Government. The tail end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 saw a good handful of films that I couldn’t wait to see and with the Academy Awards just round the corner you knew to expect some crackers in there. “The Post” being one of them.
Surprisingly this is the first time Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have appeared in a movie together and that itself sold this film on me. The subject in this day and age is becoming more common with instant access on the internet to scandal after scandal, but you have to take yourself out of the present day and remember a time when Newspapers were more relevant and informative (whether true or not) and basically the only medium that kept the public informed of the current affairs.
As well as Streep and Hanks as the main characters in the film, it’s supporting cast of Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford and Bruce Greenwood were impressive. Hey even David Cross makes an appearance. The supporting performances in “The Post” were solid and tight throughout and I was particularly impressed by Bob Odenkirk portraying Ben Bagdikian. I felt they filmmakers gave him justified screen time without it appearing forced or unnecessary. Odenkirk to me is the stand out amongst the supporting cast and the actor justifies his involvement in this project.
On the other hand, Meryl Streep takes her time to shine and came through as Kay Graham (Washington Post) and what appeared to be constant bickering and prodding by her fellow directors in trying to manipulate Graham in deciding not to go ahead and publish the classified information, I was relieved to see the actress do what she does best and in this case put the sniffling little toads in their place and remind them of who is running the paper.
Hanks as Ben Bradlee is okay I guess. To be honest, I’ve seen the actor in better films and in better roles but I’ve always been a fan of the actor and here he does the job, that’s really all I can say on the performance. I think the role of Bradlee in the film is essentially supportive to Graham and means well. I have to admit at the beginning of the movie I didn’t really care for him as he came across as a bit of a douchebag but as the story moved along he grew on me.
The film itself is a mixed bag. Yes there are folk out there who think the timing of this movies release is deliberate in today’s times politically and historically. While at times it has neither the high emotional stakes and dramatic tension it should have had, the actors are good and in particular the supporting roles. The plot is interesting to a point and I think Director Steven Spielberg does well to present the audience with the story of the turbulent politics of the Vietnam era that leads to the controversies surrounding the Pentagon Papers.
My only gripe is that the movies pacing is a little off at times and I don’t mean interspersed throughout. The first 90 minutes or so is the build up to what decision Kay Graham and The Washington Post take in regards to releasing the information to the public. The problem with the build up is 90 minutes is a long time and believe me it feels longer. The final 15 -20 minutes of the film is where finally we can pigeon hole the film into the “Drama” category and believe me it is tense and this is where we finally get to see Streep and Hanks excel. The film contains a few moments that feel a bit underwhelming and at times very clichéd rather than powerful.
Overall “The Post” is a watchable movie that could have been better structured. The look and feel of the movie represents the era these events took place in from cinematography to costume design very well and takes you back to a time before computers were main stream and the information wasn’t so accessible as it is today. The cover-up that spanned four US Presidents is handled from the Washington Post’s point of view and part of me is curious to see how Spielberg might have used it from the perspective of The New York Times who published articles and quoting from it in summer 1971.
Would that have made a more intense drama? Who knows? “The Post” is what it is and my expectations for this movie is what probably has hindered my view on it. Decent and I do recommend watching it.