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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

"The Post" Review

You know you’re a good director when a good film is seen as a disappointment. This can also mean that a director has made a film or string of films that are so highly regarded that everything they do next will be compared to it. This is the case right now for Steven Spielberg, arguably the greatest American director of all time. He’s made so many great films, Schindler’s List and Jaws, that his good ones, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, are undeservedly seen as lesser. Case in point, The Post, a by the numbers awards-luring film that is packed with about a metric ton of prestige talent within every department.

The film tells the story of The Washington Post’s role in the release of the Pentagon Papers. Spielberg focuses on two key figures, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and how they played an important part in breaking the news. We see some good old fashioned journalism as Ben and his team follow leads, track down sources, and post stories at a rapid and stressful pace. Kay, on the other hand, is trying to keep the business afloat through financial management, all while being doubted by her all-male board. Soon a decision must be made over the Pentagon Papers. Should they be published, which would risk breaking the law and losing the company, or should they be left for somebody else to deal with them, which could also ruin the company as it misses out on publicity.

Since this is a true story, most of you will know how it ends. Spielberg gets down to the ground to tell this story. He follows individual journalists, specifically Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) on their hunt to track down and report on America’s involvement in Vietnam. It’s great to watch as each character feels important.

Spielberg has also made a very timely film that parallels what is happening with our current presidency. He rushed to make the film, saying “The level of urgency to make the movie was because of the current climate of this administration, bombarding the press and labeling the truth as fake if it suited them.” There’s definitely themes of freedom of speech and the role of the press here.

While Spielberg has made a timely film, he also made a film that overplays its timeliness. The message about the press and freedom of speech is overplayed and detracts from the enjoyment of the film near the end. There isn’t really a balance as we are constantly reminded of how important this was for American history.

Continuing his forty-year partnership with Spielberg, John Williams composed for the film. Williams gives the film a smooth feel with inspirational music. His music perfectly fills the scene when dialogue is absent, allowing for the film to not be trapped into doing only one thing.

When you see Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the two leads, you know it's going to be a fantastically acted film. That is especially true here as Streep and Hanks do an outstanding job of portraying their real-life characters. Streep brings authenticity and power to her character as she goes on a journey from a woman in a sea of men to a woman taking command of her ship. Hanks gives a down and dirty portrayal of Ben Bradlee. He talks like he has a cigar in his mouth and has a no-nonsense attitude about him.

The supporting cast comprises Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Matthew Rhys, along with many other notables. They each do well at sharing the spotlight in their smaller roles. They all feel like a real news team, bouncing off each other at a rapid pace and building each other up as the plot progresses.

I fear that The Post is going to be lost in the near future, mostly because everyone involved has done greater things. My fears will probably be realized since I’ll most likely forget about it as time goes by. But when you’re Spielberg, Streep, or Hanks, your good material just doesn’t compare to everything else you have done.


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