The Post is precisely the type of well-crafted journalistic procedural that you would expect from the holy filmmaking trinity of Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Superbly well-acted and filled with his usual amount of optimistic schmaltz, The Post leaves subtlety at the door (it’s the anti-Spotlight) and spells out its themes in large, bold newsprint.
Set in 1971 during the Vietnam War, the film explores the exposing of damning classified documents that detail America’s involvement in the war and the government’s attempts to hide the truth from the public. But it also tackles female empowerment in a male dominated corporate world.
The film works as a quasi-prequel, period piece to Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men (complete with an almost Marvel-esque easter egg), but the strong parallels to today’s war between journalistic integrity and an unfit megalomaniac are crystal clear.
The line, “if we live in a world where the President tells us what we can and cannot do then the Washington Post has already ceased to exist”, holds chilling significance in any timeline.
Pairing Hanks and Streep on screen, and in frame, for the first time ever is as good as two shots will ever be. Hanks, the gruff newsroom bulldog, plays slightly against type but remains Hollywood’s most likable individual, while Streep provides a stunning complexity to Katherine Graham.
While both powerhouse headliners, make awards-worthy acting seem effortless, some of the best scenes are found when we get down and dirty in the smoke-filled rooms and hallways with the supporting team. Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, Bruce Greenwood help to muddy the ideological and ethical waters, making the lengthy dialogue scenes enthralling and conflicting.
The Post won’t win over Spielberg detractors who tire of his idealism and showy craftsmanship, but general audiences should be absorbed by the storytelling and reminded of the critical importance of journalism as a means of keeping our elected officials in check. As joyful as it is to view the way we used to join ink and plate to paper, it’s the words, and the trust in those words that matters most. The Post is an intentional and timely reminder that no hashtags can ever be allowed to delegitimise our press.