When you mix Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep together in a film, it makes sense that the expectations would be high. Throw in a dramatic time in history that has immediate relevance with what the world is going through today and you should anticipate a tremendous film.
I enjoyed The Post very much. I would not say that it was the greatest film ever, but I did enjoy it.
In the months prior to the Watergate break-in, some top secret papers (The Pentagon Papers) fell into the hands of some journalists at the New York Times and they started the ball rolling by publishing some of it. The papers revealed details about how much the government knew about and lied about with Vietnam dating back to Eisenhower, and this threatened to be an embarrassment for the USA. However, President Nixon got an injunction to prevent any further publication.
Then, the papers found their way to the Washington Post, where owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) had to make a decision on whether or not to publish these stories. Editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) hoped she would say it was okay to publish, but there were plenty of opposition to her making that choice.
The strongest part of this movie is the performances of Streep and Hanks, as if that is a surprise to anyone. These are two masters who were given some serious material with which to work. The best scenes of the film include the two stars on screen together. I would have liked more with them.
There were solid supporting work as well here with actors such as Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon and Alison Brie.
The film started kind of slowly and did not really take off until Bob Odenkirk’s character found himself in possession of the top secret files. Odenkirk was especially excellent throughout the film and carried a good chunk of the story. After that point, the film was full of energy and excitement. The first 45-60 minutes did feel slow to me. That would have been weakest aspect of The Post.
The film effortlessly compares to the political climate of today in a couple of different ways. The attempt to silence the press by Nixon can easily be compared to the way the press is being vilified today. We also have the empowerment of women, as Katharine Graham, who was the first publisher of a major American newspaper, comes into her own before our eyes. Streep creates a remarkably compelling character from this historical figure.
Though I enjoyed this movie, I do not think it reaches the level of a film such as Spotlight. There is too much drag in the early part of the film that weighs it down despite the engaging performances. Still, Streep and Hanks are wonderful here and help to elevate the second half of the movie into greatness.