The Post Review
The Post is a political thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Matthew Rhys, Alsion Brie, Jesse Plemons, and Zach Woods.
The Story/The Direction:
This true story is about the journalists Kay Graham (Streep) and Ben Bradlee (Hanks) who decided to publish the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the United States government was secretly involved during the Vietnam War. These papers showed that the government knew that Vietnam was a war that couldn't be won in 1965 but it ended in even after they were released. This film takes place during the early 1970s and when the New York Times released some of the papers that showed that there were thousands of deaths on the government's hands. It was then ruled that they could not publish any more information about the papers. Then the Washington Post gets the papers and now they don't know what to do. If they publish them, they could go out of business or be arrested for treason. In addition, Kay is the first and sole woman newspaper publisher and people are looking down on her as she tries to do the right thing while also feeling pressured to just move along with the punches.
The story is very timely and Spielberg knew this which is why he put it into production and on the screen in only nine months. Even with this film being pushed, it is a well-made film that only Spielberg can put out. If there is anyone to do a true story period film, Spielberg is the director to do it. He wants to place his audience right in the middle of 1970 and each moment is compelling as the last. He keeps the pacing moving quick enough to keep the film from being boring overall. He is also joined by longtime collaborator and always decent John Williams. There are plenty of great moments that only can Spielberg can produce in this film.
What makes this film good though is its fantastic ensemble cast led by Hanks and Streep. Being among the most favorite actors in Hollywood, it is surprising that this is their first film working together but their performances show otherwise. They are both hardworking when it comes to acting and the respect they have for each other comes through on the screen. Their characters mostly have respect for each other when it comes to reporting the news. There are some sexist moments where Ben tries to push Kay to give the dirt on her friend Robert McNamara (Greenwood), who ironically played John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days. But she lets him know that she knows he did not do the same when it came to President Kennedy. This is a great subplot to have especially in the current environment. Here, she is a publisher and she is being told that she does not have a voice with the men. She inherited the job after her husband passes and her ideas are only good ones when men say them. She constantly feels that it would be better to not publish the papers and avoid the troubles that come with it but she wants to do the right thing as well. As the film progresses, the audience sees her struggle of being torn between a rock and a hard place. When she is the one who has to make the call to publish them or not, the camera zooms on her face and she breathes and the audience does not know what her decision will be.
The biggest flaw with this film is its tension or lack of it. This film's main conflict is a yes or no question and this is known from the beginning of the film. The There are only so many times this uncertainty can engage the audience, especially with the government only being the antagonist in the background. The venture drags a little bit because of this and does make the middle part of the film somewhat boring.
However, even with the flaws, there is still a good amount to enjoy. The cast is brilliant and a lot of fun to see on screen with the highlight going to Streep. The story is very timely and it is a nice reminder that history can repeat itself. This film may not be a career-defining role for anyone involved including Spielberg but average for them is still floors above some. This good film is not worth rushing out to see right away but still worth seeing at some point, especially if anyone has not heard of the Pentagon Papers before.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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