The Post is a film that places a spotlight on the journalists of the Washington Post and New York Times who published the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study on the United States involvement in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The historical drama follows the first female newspaper publisher, played by Meryl Streep, alongside her trusted editor, played by Tom Hanks, to print a government secret so large it spanned four U.S. presidents.
The Post is exactly what you’d expect it to be. A slow-burning drama that pays off once you reach the end. It doesn’t shine as brightly as Spotlight did, but comes close.
Meryl Streep dives perfectly into her role as a woman trying to maintain control of the Washington Post after her husband passes, leaving the title of publisher in her lap. Streep delivers each note of emotion with excellent nuance. In a scene with her daughter, played by Alison Brie, her eyes brim with tears as she ponders a big decision. Down to the way she pauses before delivering a line captures the character in a way that few would be able to replicate.
On the other hand, Tom Hanks could be more or less forgotten. As an editor at the Post, his demeanor and accent hit the right notes, but feels like déja-vu. The way Hank approaches his character doesn’t feel unique at all. Though he had some great moments, he could’ve been easily replaced with another A-list father-figure guy.
While most scenes are executed well, the sequencing of events and the length of certain shots could’ve been improved. For example, the opening shot shows soldiers preparing for a battle in the jungles of Vietnam. The audience is confused as to what they are watching. Instead, perhaps cut-ins between gunshots and typewriters would have made more sense, to tie in the fact that a story will be uncovered.
If any talking points should be taken from the movie, it will be the stark comparison between Nixon and Trump’s approach to news outlets. Spielberg makes a strong choice in choosing to add omniscient takes of conversations between Nixon and his advisors.
Notably, the films’ cowriter, Josh Singer, also wrote for Spotlight, a film about journalists that won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film will reach the same prestige. After all, it does carry two of the biggest names in Hollywood. In addition, the film comes to a satisfying close that isn’t expected but gladly accepted.
Overall, The Post provides an eye-opening perspective into why it’s important for individuals, especially journalists, to question authority and place the interest of the governed before the governors.