The Post

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(7user reviews)
The Post

Steven Spielberg’s answer to ‘All The President’s Men’ stars a fascinatingly torn Meryl Streep but otherwise lacks bite.

‘However,’ Meryl Streep says, almost distractedly, a forefinger touching her temple – and that indecisive pause is the most exciting thing in the whole of ‘The Post’. Streep plays Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham – in retrospect, a giant of journalism – and even with the weight of printing the Pentagon Papers (and defending press freedom) bearing down on her, the actor adds layers of dithering doubt and insecurity to her portrayal. It’s a satisfying zig where others would have zagged and the first time Streep has given us a recognisable human being in a while. You’ll be thrilled to see the exquisite wobbler of ‘Sophie’s Choice’ back in action.

She deserves a movie that matches her level of complexity – maybe a pitch-black comedy in which the calculating Nixon administration is felled by Graham, a somewhat detached socialite who’d rather be hobnobbing with her fancy Beltway friends. (Graham grew into her confidence after these events.)

Dutifully organised via a clichéd script by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, ‘The Post’ begins with Vietnam War choppers, a Creedence Clearwater Revival song (predictable) and the frowns of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys). Then it segues into idealistic barking by editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and finally ends with the happily-ever-after falseness of the hulking presses churning to life.

Amazing as it is to say, director Steven Spielberg seems reticent to add any visual pizzazz to the film’s deadline mania. The images have cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s typical blown-out glow – ‘history in the making,’ it screams – but too many of these sequences feel rote: bespectacled editors in shirtsleeves poring over documents while Bradlee’s wife (a wasted Sarah Paulson) heroically serves sandwiches. 

‘Lincoln’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ positively vibrated with fine-grain procedural density; here the filmmaker plays it too cool. And yet, Spielberg is sensitive to Graham’s exclusion, dwarfing her among the mansplainers until the tables turn and she’s beamed at, adoringly, by a throng of female hippies who gather on the Supreme Court steps. Never mind if that actually happened; for a second, the movie comes alive.

Undeniably, ‘The Post’ feels timely, but there’s a counter-argument to be made that, in our current era of fake news and easily swayed public opinion, it’s actually a dinosaur of a film – and not ‘Jurassic Park’. Thank God for the owners, it ultimately says, who sometimes do the right thing. That’s a perfectly fine idea, but our times could use something sharper.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
12A
Release date:
Friday January 19 2018
Duration:
116 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter:
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Cast:
Meryl Streep
Tom Hanks
Bob Odenkirk
Tracy Letts

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|7
2 people listening
Tastemaker

The Post stars the incredibly talented Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in leading roles. The story is very relevant in these times and sends out an important message to its audience. However the movie didn't wow me and at times I even thought it dragged and failed to move me in a way that I thought it should despite its pivotal storyline. It's ok, worth a watch but failed to impact me in a way that this type of film is expected to.


This is a perfectly good film from Spielberg who has arguably presented a perkier portrait of the US press than 'Spotlight', buzzing with the kinetic energy of a 70s newsroom, as Alexandra L mentions a hymn to 70s press technology. There's some licence justified in service of a great story e,g. you get the Mario Savio anti-war speech ("There's a time when the operations of the machine become so odious you've got to make it stop" etc) transplanted from Berkeley to the East Coast. As Alexandra also says there's a Nixon / Trump echo (though Nixon had more in common with Reagan's anti-left McCarthyite crusade, only a clumsier operator & communicator than Ronnie). 

Yes it's true that Katherine Graham is from a world of privilege, but the film well shows several times sexism from top to bottom in the 70s which is still not vanquished today, hence it's relevance, as well as courageous factual journalism. A very good performance by Streep - I have not always seen her merits but this and just watched her excellent performance in Doubt is convincing. Focussing on Graham and her milieux is a worthwhile alternative angle to focussing on the NY Times and Daniel Ellsberg, but please also see the excellent Oscar-Nominated documentary 'The Most Dangerous Man in America' to rectify this. It's well worth opening The Post as an entertaining and informative window on the Vietnam war era, relevant today.  .

Tastemaker

This is undoubtedly a great film, even though a bit overmarketed in my humble opinion. Spielberg-Streep-Hanks definitely do the trick - they've all done a brilliant job. The awkward chemistry between Kay Graham (Maryl Streep) and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is represented very well by both and it is their first ever film together. There's a point in the middle of the film that feels it goes a bit slow but towards the end, it is really nerve-wracking in a good way. This dark moment in US history and the importance of the free press are very well presented in this film.

Tastemaker

There's no doubt that the acting in this film is great. Has Meryl Streep ever done a bad film? However, the first half was pretty slow. The second half definitely picked up, and it was far more exciting...but at the time I remember thinking it should've been 15 mins shorter (and it was only 116 mins as it was!). 

Tastemaker

This is 100% Spielberg’s best work for a long time. After the snoozy ‘Bridge of Spies’ and the disappointing ‘BFG’, he returns to the finest form here with a tense story based on real life events that’s 50% drama, 50% documentary, 100% edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Much has been made of the performances from Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and yes, as you would expect, they are superb. I wonder sometimes if it’s difficult to be Streep and to constantly deliver on-screen performances that consistently knock the socks off every audience watching but it cannot be denied that here, she serves up yet one more as the sometimes cautious, often nervous but ultimately strong & courageous Katherine Graham. Watching her be overruled and shouted over in rooms full of suited men is only one of the reasons that this film feels so topical despite it being set several decades ago. The other main one is obviously the contentious point of freedom of the press and what they should and shouldn’t be allowed to investigate & publish. Give Nixon a voluminous wig and a spray tan and you could easily imagine the Oval Office set scenes bring mirrored today with Trump.

As Ben Bradlee, Hanks walks a fine line between being part of the team and a man chasing glory. His inability at first to see why Graham should take so long to make some decisions is nailed succinctly and wonderfully by Sarah Paulson in a small but definitive role; she may serve sandwiches for a great part of the film but it’s the speech she delivers to husband Bradlee that you’ll leave remembering her for. Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford are all outstanding in supporting roles that elevate this from a Hanks-Streep movie to one of the best ensemble casts since ‘Spotlight’, written by co-author here, Josh Singer.

Don’t be afraid if you don’t know much about this period of history - I really didn’t and it doesn’t make any difference. You may enjoy it more if you lived through it but you won’t enjoy it any less if you didn’t. It’s definitely made me want to go and watch ‘All The President’s Men’ now especially as the last scene of this film could apparently practically be the first scene of that one.

There are some really lovely moments within the newspaper itself where the cranking up of the printing press, the buzz of the open plan newsroom and the frenetic energy of one publication trying to outdo another will make you want to run off and retrain as a journalist from a past era, one that for all its troubles seems to be naive and childlike when compared to the state of the world today. If you’re after a tremendously good drama, watch ‘The Post’. If you want to see how terrifying little some things seem to have progressed over the past forty years, go watch ‘The Post’. Either way, you’ll be richly rewarded.

Tastemaker

Great film.

It tells the story of an important moment of US history.

Great cast and great performances.


This a slow-burner of a movie and definitely worth watching, Spielberg tells a story with skill, but it also wouldn't be a Spielberg movie without a rather trite happy ending. Perhaps we need a little light in these dark times but ultimately I do prefer my movies with a bit more grey and ambiguity...