Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons
A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government. (Source: IMDb)
Where Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World is receiving attention for the way it was able to hastily re-shoot scenes to replace the character played by Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer, The Post is also receiving some attention for just how quickly this film all came together. The circumstances for these behind-the-camera conversations however perhaps go slightly in The Post‘s favour; their hurried production being because it was deemed an important story to tell as soon as possible, as opposed to All the Money in the World‘s slightly more troubled predicament.
What better time is there to talk about Presidential inadequacies, controversial cover-ups, and Government distrust than now, particularly when specifically looking at the press. 2017 was the year that “fake news” became the Word of the Year according to the Collins Dictionary, and the President of the United States “honoured” the ten most deserving outlets for their coverage of “fake news”. As the press continue to fight for their freedom to publish the truth, Spielberg’s The Post is of course incredibly timely, and rather depressingly it highlights that very little has changed.
Telling the true story of the Pentagon Papers and the battle faced by several newspapers in order to print the truth, there is the depressing realisation of history repeating itself, and this undoubtedly elevates The Post. As would be expected from a Steven Spielberg film, it is an incredibly well-made film, the direction is precise, and there is great attention to detail, both in the period accuracy and in the obvious love for the craft of pulling together a story and in the actual printing of it. In what can only be described as “printing press porn”, there are a number of close-ups of the printing presses which are beyond mesmerising.
The ability to make photocopying and typewriting so engaging and so thrilling has to be highlighted as well, and there is a real sense of authenticity that would be commendable in any circumstances, but particularly when considering the sped-up production schedule.
Of course the film is in incredibly reliable hands with the incomparable Meryl Streep and the always dependable Tom Hanks in the lead roles. Actually, let’s just take a moment to appreciate that we have Streep, Hanks, and Spielberg involved in the same film. Streep in particular is wonderful, and there are a number of scenes in which her character has to hold her own in a boardroom full of men. Her character arc and development is easily the most engaging; she goes from timid and nervous to confident, commanding, and in control. The female empowerment message of this film is given equal importance to the themes of justice and truth, and this helps give it that extra layer. Never putting in a bad performance regardless of the quality of the film, Hanks is equally great and a perfect counterpart to Streep. It’s so rare to see a film which puts so much care into portraying a working relationship, and it is refreshing to see this relationship between Hanks’ Ben Bradlee, and Streep’s Kay Graham develop across the film. Having impressed in Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk proves to be the surprise MVP of this film and is rewarded with a lot of the films more quietly brilliant scenes.
The Post almost perfectly segues into All the President’s Men, and there is no doubting these films share some of the same lifeblood. There’s also similarities with 2016’s Spotlight, but none of these comparisons are exactly a bad thing.
I saw this movie and you should too. This is an important film for 2018, and has that undeniable sense of it being a timely story to tell. Whether it would be quite as impactful under other circumstances is certainly an argument that could go against it, but regardless of that, it is an incredibly well made film, with excellent performances and an important message at its core.