The Post is a well acted and a timely, important drama, perhaps a little too polished in places

The Post (2017) – Film Review

The Post - film poster 2017

The Post – film poster 2017

There’s a series of eerie cameo voice moments in The Post – a president who rages at the media, threatening legal action. Of course these are voice recordings of President Richard Nixon, about a time long ago in the hey-day of a free press which was lauded in the 1970s.

No surprise, then, that Steven Spielberg opted to rush this film into production in an attempt to draw timely comparisons between historical events with a more recent regime in the White House.

Starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katherine “Kay” Graham – a society hostess, with friends in high places, who inherited the newspaper after the death of her husband, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the charismatic editor of the Washington Post.

Both deliver superb performances in key scenes and breathe life and drama into a film which itself has little action other than a scene setting battle in the opening minutes which sets the scene for an unpalatable report into the ‘unwinnable’ Vietnam war which has been buried by four Presidents – The Pentagon Papers.

While Kay Graham is dismissed as a woman by so many powerful people she finds a quiet resolve to forge her own path in the face of powerful men who would advise her otherwise and Bradlee is the type of crusading journalist we all want to be leading our press despite having to look at his own past when moralising about the relationship between the press and the powers that be.

The Post is derided as a “little family paper” in the shadow of the more illustrious and better financed New York Times but Graham finds herself with a dilemma when the Times is censured by the White House for publishing the leaked Pentagon Papers.

Bradlee’s news team finds a copy of the papers and presents her with a powerful decision – one that could see jail sentences and the ruin of a prestigious newspaper if things don’t go their way – purely on the choice to publish their own story in defiance of the threat of serious legal action from Nixon’s White House.

The Post – great nostalgia for newspaper folks of the heyday of journalism

The Post - in the editor's office

NOR_D01_053017_9621_R2 – L-R: Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee), David Cross (Howard Simons), John Rue (Gene Patterson), Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian), Jessie Mueller (Judith Martin), and Philip Casnoff (Chalmers Roberts) in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE POST. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise.

We’re given glimpses of a 1970s news room, pre—press department and finally presses – the kind of rooms which would hardly change for decades afterwards making this a must-see for news people and there’s actually some nice although all-too-rare moments of actual news gathering – the sort of thing which is dying out in the modern social media obsessed age.

Streep has landed a record 21st Oscar nomination, the the best actress category, for her portrayal of Katherine Graham while The Post was also nominated in the best picture category.

Perhaps there’s plenty of Spielberg polish on some of the scenes, you can also see where he’s tried to insert a little more tension with  connecting dialogue, simplified scenes, and dramatic John Williams music into what could seem an ordinary film but between this and Spotlight (2015) there’s plenty of drama for newspaper fans.

Hot on the heels of the successful conclusion of The Post is a coda which leads us nicely into that other big political event in the 70s – a break-in at the Watergate building – how very on-the-nose.

It’s an open invite to put on a DVD of “All The President’s Men (1976)” to watch the Nixon saga come to its conclusion, though, and that’s a film well worth seeing too.

The Post (12A; strong language, brief battle violence; 116 minutes)

Director(s): Steven Spielberg

Cast Includes: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, Matthew Rhys, Jesse Plemons, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tracy Letts, Pat Healy, Zach Woods, David Cross, Rick Holmes, Jessie Mueller, Stark Sands, Philip Casnoff, Austyn Johnson

Summary: THE POST is a US drama, based on true events from 1971, in which American newspapers race to expose a government cover-up of Vietnam War secrets.

Rating: **** (An important drama with some excellent acting, perhaps a little overly polished but very timely)