The Post

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
The Post

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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 The 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, and 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 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 (really?) 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 predictable: 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.


Release details

Release date:
Thursday January 11 2018
116 mins

Cast and crew

Steven Spielberg
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Meryl Streep
Tom Hanks
Bob Odenkirk
Tracy Letts

Users say (1)

2 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

2 / 5

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A minor film by one of the great filmmakers. This is not up to the standard of the superior ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN. It doesn't have the heighten sense of psychological disturbance as Oliver Stone's master-work of government paranoia in JFK or even Spielbergs MUNICH. The performances in general are top-notch but Streep had too many cringe-inducing dialogue I could have done without. Streep and Hanks portrayed as dignified crusaders for a free press  without any flaws of characters and hounded by the Nixon government. I just didn't feel the force of the government coming down on them as a force of threat.There was no government force of pressure that would have had Streep and Hanks sweating. They were cool, calm and collected and that didn't sit right with me. The drama was simply not there with a lack of suspense.This is basically a talking head picture and Spielberg had said it was a rush job for awards season. The only time the film took me by surprise was the final scene leading into ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN. The opening scene in war-torn battle Vietnam was a lifeless piece of film-making by Spielberg. Spielberg has been at his best with SCHINDLER'S LIST, MUNICH and MINORITY REPORT. THE POST is the type of film one watches on tv and half-way through switches to another channel. THE POST doesn't deserve Oscar recognition!