Rating : 4 / 5 stars
What’s it about?
The Post is a political drama directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk and Sarah Paulson among others.
Set in 1971, the film follows Ben Bradlee and Kay Graham, editor and publisher of The Washington Post respectively, as they have to decide whether or not to publish the controversially explosive Pentagon Papers that they have come into their possession after the US government gags The New York Times from publishing it. As they realize the spotlight the papers will shine on the ongoing Vietnam war, they are faced with the moral dilemma of whether publishing these papers will undermine the ongoing war efforts and harm American lives.
The Post has a very poignant message about the far reaching effects of censorship and the importance of freedom of speech, which it conveys effectively. The film also feels very relevant with regards to the political environment that is prevalent all over the world today.
Inspite of having a plot that is too meager for a full feature length film, Steven Spielberg directs The Post with a certain dexterity that is missing in films today. He dials the tension up to maximum in the last forty minutes or so, creating some great edge of the seat moments like only he can. He also manages to extract some great performances from his entire cast.
The behind the scenes format that the film employs about all the decision making that went into publishing the Pentagon Papers at the Post makes the film a very fascinating watch. There are deft touches of humor in the dialogues that work in favor of the film. The art direction successfully manages to transport the viewer to the time period in which the film is set. The background score helps enhance the mood of all the scenes, especially towards the end of the film.
The film takes a while to get going. The first 40 minutes is basically set up for the rest of the story with long conversations about politics and political affiliations that the characters have, which may be hard for the casual viewer to follow; especially for viewers outside of the United States of America, as this is a very America specific film. Also, the director squeezes the maximum tension out of a story which, if you sit back and think about it, does not have as much meat as one would think it has.
This is one of those rare films that has amazing performances from its entire ensemble cast. Even though Tom Hanks’ Ben Bradlee does not have a full character arc, he makes the character very likable and worth rooting for. Meryl Streep has the most developed character of the film and she sinks her teeth into it and delivers a knockout performance. From a sort of ornamental wife who is unsure what to do with her inheritance, to the ballsy first female publisher of the Washington Post, Streep’s performance is one for the ages. Bob Odenkirk as the star journalist of the Post is also very good. Sarah Paulson has a limited role and is decent. Rest of the cast is good in their respective roles.
An insightful commentary on important issues like freedom of speech and government censorship, this film is a must watch for all Spielberg fans and lovers of dramatic cinema!