Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Two actors whose careers have stood the test of time, starring in classic film after classic film. Their most recent venture into Oscar-worthy drama is Spielberg vehicle, The Post, that brings the sheer brilliance of both Streep and Hanks into the foreground, but also the sheer brilliance and bravery of the characters they portray.
The Post follows the true story of the Washington Post and the release of classified documents, the Pentagon Papers, relating to the Vietnam War. Streep plays Kay Graham, the owner, and publisher, of the Washington Post. Already, obstacles are encountered regarding her gender, in a time period where women were still expected to be behind the kitchen counter, rather than behind a desk.
This film handles many strong themes, like sexism and government secrets, with relative ease. Spielberg’s inclusion of the mundane creates a depiction of a real-life setting: no Hollywood glamour and selection of the most interesting parts of a story, but everything. He takes every part of a story and makes some of the most real and memorable films in recent times.
Speaking of the mundane, the first 45 minutes to an hour of the film is all backstory. Unless you are heavily invested in this film and are deeply interested in the story, this entire section may seem to move a bit too slowly, with a bit too much relish in not a lot of storyline. However, this tactic shows the sudden bombardment of information and decision making the Washington Post had to deal with, going from a family newspaper to a national newspaper overnight.
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are (obviously) the highlights of this movie. Streep brings a believable lack of confidence and uncertainty to Kay, drawing from her experience as a woman in a man’s world. Her character is multi-faceted and flawed: she has her moments of submission, surrendering her inherited power for the men she has employed around her. She also has moments of strength, of determination and of sheer bravery. Her character ebbs in and out of traits, showing a fully believable and relatable female lead.
Tom Hanks, however, plays the stereotypical newspaper editor. Ben Bradlee is bold, brazen and not afraid to break the rules. He storms into scenes, taking charge of the journalists he is superior to and the story he is a part of. There are a few times where it seems as though he is just his character, leaving behind his persona of Tom Hanks and moving into a new body.
However, there are obvious flaws in this movie. As stated earlier, it is slow, but not without reason. It focuses mainly on the words, rather than using action or visual drama to excite the viewer. It is very, for lack of a better word, talky. The actual plot itself is very simple, and at times, it seemed as though Spielberg and the writers of the film themselves, were clutching at straws to try and find more story.
Despite all of this, the film is brilliantly well made, wonderfully acted, and well written. It is a poignant reminder of the indispensable role of the free press in a democracy, at a time where it is just as relevant in our society now, as it was then. It may not win any Oscars, but it will definitely be nominated for some.