Movie Review - The Post

Attributes: Movie Reviews

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Alison Brie, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood


At a time when the debate over Fake News and ‘reporting for the governors vs the governed’ is raging in the U.S., a movie calling attention to the freedom of press and questioning the administration of the country seems to be a bold move. Quite a moodsetter for this film set in the early 1970s, that begins with a military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) turning whistleblower after he witnesses the authorities take no action in stopping the brutal Vietnam War despite knowing its failed consequences. When Ellsberg steals the classified Pentagon papers, Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, has no idea that it will impact her already unstable position of being the first female of a major American paper.


Trying to mediate her distrustful Board and headstrong editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), Katherine is shown to be hanging on to a perceived balance by her nails, as she tries to continue her conditioned routines of throwing warm parties while also hoping to catch up to rival paper and more successful, The New York Times. Streep holds fort as a widow heiress who is desperate to not disappoint her husband and father’s legacy but is also not used to having her voice heard when business is spoken. The distress is visible in her failed speeches when you watch her put everything into preparing for them, nerves and a lifetime of taught sexism rattling Katherine’s confidence till the crucial climax. The shots of silence and background conversations speak more than any monologue would, and the earned expertise of Streep shines through in the smallest of shots.


In direct contrast to Katherine, Ben Bradlee dives head-first into trouble and rebellion when the New York Times publishes an expose on a brief outline of a government cover-up that exceeds three decades and four presidencies. Using every resource possible, and fighting the wary legal team of the publication, Bradlee gets his hands on a massive part of the confidential documents when reporter Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) meets with Ellsberg directly. Putting together a small team he makes the decision to run the story, despite the time-crunch they have, but they face a new fear when New York Times is served an injunction to stop printing information about the confidential papers. Dealing with the threat of bankers pulling out, and a fresh conversion to being a publicly traded publication, it falls on Katherine to make the final call under the circumstances. The fact that the decision becomes a radical game-changer only vindicates a growing support for the character from the audience.


While the movie is refreshing in showing that unified ends made the press stronger in a battle fought together, it is also notable for showing a solidarity of women without taking credit away from one character or hailing one woman above another. The moments that flow between the loudly significant carry a meaningful silence of understanding, and it reflects on the dialogues that come during the payout of the entire journey. For all that the movie shies away from giving a clear face to any ‘evil villain’, it also reinforces that heroes aren’t always perfect but it is their continued fight to keep trying that matters most. 

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