If you would like to see a mix between Spotlight and presidential scandals through Spielberg’s lens then you will probably like this.
- Screenplay by Liz Hannah (Debut feature) and Josh Singer (Spotlight)
- Directed by Steven Spielberg (Lincoln and Bridge of Spies)
- Starring Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Osage County and Julia & Julia), Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies, Sully and Forrest Gump) and Bob Odenkirk (best known as Saul from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul)
- Budget of $50m
My initial thoughts
With Spielberg at the helm and supported by two film juggernauts, in Streep and Hanks, this is a true Hollywood film. However, despite being a film that tackles many current issues prevalent today, The Post never quite delivers – especially when you consider the talent on and off screen.
The ‘ccc’ review
The film centers on the release of classified governmental papers and the conflicting relationship between those in government and those who controlled the nation’s newspapers about how the leak should be handled. Washington Post owner Kay Graham (Streep) is trying to find her voice among men in leading the company and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) and his team are striving to report the truth to the people fighting against outside political pressures…..sound familiar?
Although this film is set in the 70s, is it as appropriate now as it was almost 50 years ago. No wonder once Spielberg read the script he decided he had to direct this film as soon as possible, in his own words saying that “when I read the first draft of the script, this wasn’t something that could wait three years or two years — this was a story I felt we needed to tell today”.
The film opens in Vietnam when a US Army Observer realises that they were fighting a losing war and the only reason the US government continued was to avoid worldwide humiliation. He takes action by leaking the documents, which would become known as the Pentagon Papers, to the New York Times and then the Washington Post.
The narrative of the film quickly becomes clear, once you get up to speed with the number of characters introduced, it becomes easy to follow. There are a number of nice single camera shots to begin with, but these disappear towards the end of the film and the overall directing lacks enough originality. The film’s score keeps the film flowing nicely (which is of course done by John Williams – his 28th collaboration with Spielberg). Ultimately Spielberg never takes any huge risks and this is what holds the film back – when comparing to Spotlight, the 2016 Oscar Winner about the Boston Globe, it doesn’t stack up in terms of intensity and final punch.
The Post is the first time that Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks have all worked together on a film, and surprisingly enough the first onscreen acting collaboration between the star pairing of Streep and Hanks.
Streep plays Kay Graham, a women who was never destined to take over the company. She begins the film without being able to exert any influence and through Streep’s very good performance (she got her 21st Oscar nomination off the back of this), we see Streep slowly transform Kay into a stronger and more vocal person.
Hanks is the charismatic yet turbulent Ben Bradleee, the editor of the Washington Post, who wants the real news not the celebrity weddings (oh how he would be horrified today!!). Hanks plays the character in typical Hanks fashion.
Neither Hanks nor Streep really push themselves or have that moment when you think that the Oscar is close. Actually, the best performance of the film was from Odenkirk and you can understand why producers were willing to make a spin off from his character in Breaking Bad. He plays an understated reporter who you really believe in when he tells Hanks, “I think I’ve got something” as he chases a potential lead. Hopefully we will see him take on more roles in the future.
What are my final Thoughts
Fully expect The Post to be in the running for Best Film but similar to Darkest hour, I would be surprised if either of them walked away with the Oscar for Best Picture. The film gets across its key messages, yet The Post never truly opens up.
🎥🗞 A story that still rings true today.