A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Inspired by true events.
Consider the ghosts of Steven Spielberg’s past and future: formally an action-adventure director, his films move breathlessly and with the enticement of a comic book, his new season as a director features more restraint. He takes historical subjects (time periods from the Civil War, the Cold War, to name a few recent entries) and finds relevance and meaning in them, plugging them into our current climate as food for thought. In his most recent film, almost magically, Spielberg has found the voice in him to fuse the two.
The Post is, if nothing else, a chase movie—a paper chase, an action film where words, pen tips, and the clicking of typewriters shoot faster than bullets in this morality play about the power of the press. It is the true story of the Washington Post’s publisher Katherine Graham’s (Meryl Streep) morally-driven decision to expose the government cover-up regarding the Vietnam War, with the aid and support of the Post’s top editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and against her board of trustees and the United States government.
That said, from a Dove perspective, the politics and correctness of the film are subjects we try to set aside. Perhaps this film is propaganda. Perhaps it is cry for activism and participation. To the viewer, it is all opinion. What Dove can say is that this is a fine film from a fine director.
The performances extracted from the film are uniformly excellent. As an ensemble movie, the actors really get to sprout in their own respective places and provide levity and direction for the film. That said, The Post belongs to its leads from an acting standpoint. Both are asked to take their characters and chisel them down to their most human form. Graham, a peacemaker at heart, is eventually asked to take a stance, threatening her career and life, and Streep never overplays even the most dramatic moments. She is note perfect. Meanwhile, Bradlee (Hanks) exudes grit and confidence as an old-school newsman, only to recognize that he is not the one in jeopardy, but Graham. Hanks truly knocks it out of the park at showing journalistic integrity, gradually reeling back so that his character realizes it is not all about him.
It is hard to deny that The Post is an opinionated film, fit with its own agenda and something to say about the current status of journalistic integrity and truth for the public. Everyone will have their own stance and entitlement to their opinions. It is, all the same, a thinking person’s film. Spielberg’s film is, at a bare minimum, a call to action to take a stance – no matter your beliefs. Only due to some coarse language, Dove cannot approve of The Post, but can be suggested as an excellent conversation piece.