Image: Tom Hanks in The Post. © FOX Film Corporation [Source: IMDB]
Government secrets that spanned four different presidencies are brought to light which plunged the country’s first female newspaper publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and its driven editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) into an unprecedented battle with the US Presidency to protect the first amendment and their paper.
Director: Steven Spielberg. Starring: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, Alison Brie. [12A]
The Post deals with its dilemma on two fronts, evidently in its narrative but more importantly making seemingly dry procedural drama entertaining. Spielberg demonstrates his immutable talent as he picked up the project last-minute and directed seemingly unplanned, resulting in admiration for the seamlessness of the film and Spielberg’s ability to bring tenacity to the plot. However, Spielberg’s prowess is not able to hide all shortcomings; notably in its first half, the film is more reserved and relies on the drama, to which at that moment there is none. The action is at another paper, while it does a decent job of showing the scale of this event it fails to make the audience care, we want the drama to be with these characters and the film takes half the movie to get there.
While the first half may be sluggish, it’s not without its charm as Tom Hanks as expected morphs into his character in a way you’ll only appreciate after seeing the movie. While the performance from Hanks is excellent, Streep goes toe-to-toe with her fellow Oscar winner delivering yet another subtle and understated performance of a real person. The film does a great job of balancing out the drama of the Pentagon papers as well as the struggle personally for Katherine Graham, with echoes and callbacks in its cinematography and tone to films like Silence of The Lambs and All The President’s Men, it’s evident why Spielberg fast-tracked the film as well as why the story is being told now.
This story is upheld by its numerous stand out supporting roles from the likes of Bob Odenkirk and Bruce Greenwood, as far as riveting dialogue-heavy scenes go, this is certainly at the top end of quality. However, one overall issue The Post has is a lack of impactful moments that stick with you, seemingly a consequence of the rushed production scenes are cut short where you might have suspected a longer and more captivating scene. The forceless production anchors down the film as while they are not bad, the film’s cinematography, costuming and editing just come off as box standard and unimaginative. John Williams adds a touch of his presumed brilliant in a tenuous score that bolsters the drama and adds much need gravity to the second half of the film.
The Post does a marvellous job in succeeding to produce riveting yet informative procedural drama as well as absorbing subtle performances in what could have easily been a dull pedestrian film. Spielberg instead reminds us of his ageless talent and Streep’s and Tom Hank’s acting prowess in this topical and important film about championing investigative journalism and a free press.