The Post gives an emotionally explanative view of the trials and tribulations of The Washington Post before, during and after their brave decision to explosively print the Pentagon Papers, informing the American public of the lies and deceit of their very own Government, especially in regard to the Vietnam War.
When the team of The Washington Post get their hands on one of the biggest scandals in American history, the race against time to publish doesn’t just involve competing with large, powerful newspapers like The New York Times (who were the first to publish the beginnings of the scandal). It also involves going up against the breadth and strength of a Nixon driven American Government which is determined to shut down the uncovering of three decades and four U.S. Presidents worth of secrets and deceit.
Refreshingly, The Post doesn’t just focus on the business side of the situation and the steps that were taken in the process of publishing controversial material. It also examines the many close relationships within Washington between politicians and the press, some of which were strengthened, but most of which were broken by the investigation and eventual publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
Steven Spielberg’s direction complements the brilliant script writing of Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, especially in important instants of momentum within the storyline with the choice cinematography skilfully enhancing both the action and the evolving emotional landscape. With journalists snooping around left, right and centre in pursuit of the truth, the camera places the audience peering over shoulders at confidential documents, and snooping down staircases in an attempt to hear private conversations. When the two leads realise that all other newspaper publications are following suit in reporting their breaking story, the camera looks up in glory at these two powerful individuals who took on the American Government and won.
Tom Hanks, as per usual, gives a strong performance as the newspaper’s driven editor, Ben Bradlee, a man truly dedicated to his moral position of doing the right thing and fighting for the truth, especially in the face of not only bankruptcy, but also the possibility of jail. Honestly, Hank’s character almost appears to be a slightly more abrasive version of his own caring and passionate personality.
Meryl Streep compellingly captures the bold transition of the first female publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham, from the quietly spoken and self-doubting woman who always stood behind the men in her life, to the bold and confident publisher who stands her ground in the face of extraordinary political and financial pressure. Streep shows us a woman who had been let down by the men around her and the doubt they held of her abilities, and the strength she found (with the support of her daughter) to bypass their criticisms and help unearth one of the biggest discoveries of injustice by the American Government in modern history.
The supporting cast is also full of big name actors who hold their own alongside Hollywood royalty, Hanks and Streep. Most notably, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) perfectly embodies determined journalist, Ben Bagdikian, who dedicatedly tracked down the 7,000-page report full of government secrets and brought them directly to The Washington Post.
The Post perfectly captures the drama and scandal surrounding the American Government and also those in the journalism industry who had strong ties with the politicians who had lied to the American people. This is another entertaining and informative Spielberg film that will have audiences enthralled ‘til the very last second (listen out for whispers of Watergate).
The Post opened in cinemas this week.
Check out the official site here.