The Post Movie Review
Set in the the 1970’s, THE POST follows journalists from The Washington Post who dared to publish the top secret Pentagon Papers regarding the involvement of the United States government during the Vietnam War. Exposing a massive cover-up that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents, America’s first female newspaper publisher, Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), and a seasoned hard-pushing editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), to engage in a battle between journalist and government.
Directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer and starring Streep and Hanks, THE POST is a historical political drama made with every intention to win awards. My slightly positive but not exactly glowing review might be a dissenting voice among a film expecting to garner a lot of support.
THE POST is very timely and important with our current political situation where our President and news seem to be very much at odds. The acting and costuming are exceptional. While the production isn’t any grand spectacle, the art direction contains details that exquisitely embody the time period. The film is mostly about dialogue, conversations in different rooms. This is an aspect that I admire and my favorite element about amazing shows like THE NEWSROOM or even the politics within THE GAME OF THRONES. THE POST is not either of these. The tensions and dialogue lack energy. With a Spielberg production, we know that technically speaking, it’s the best money can buy. But the writing is flat and the direction is missing passion.
Every step through the “thrilling” journey toward “Oscar-dom” is tired and obvious. I’m fully aware of the score from the great John Williams as it rises and falls, or the way the camera moves at a certain angle and pushes in on a character to create “drama.” The dialogue, especially in the final moments, are hokey and forced. THE POST is completely self aware of its importance and can’t help congratulating itself all the way through the process. You can almost see each of the large talented supporting cast speaking in old white guy Hollywood code, as one asks “There’s no way we aren’t getting nominated for this, right?” The other answers, “Nominated? We are riding this Spielberg/Streep/Hanks gravy train to mother goosing gold!”
Don’t get me wrong, I liked THE POST. LIKED it. But it’s so obvious that the bar for the film is Oscar, the result feels forced, lame and quite frankly too “Oscary.” It is NOT one of the best pictures of the year. Yes, THE POST is a true story in history that tackles an incredibly timely issue of freedom of the press while spotlighting the overreaching and corruption in our government and Presidents. However, while I definitely don’t make a habit of quoting The Family Guy, THE POST can best be described as, “It insists upon itself.”
As much as it pains me to say this, I don’t think Steven Spielberg directs with the same passion as he once did. Or to be more fair, perhaps he and I have just grown apart. JAWS might be my favorite film of all time. And many more of his films rank among the very best. But his last six films, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, WAR HORSE, LINCOLN, BRIDGE OF SPIES, THE BFG, and now THE POST, have not impressed me like I expect them too. Sure they have some value and are still taking home awards, but they just aren’t to the level that I’ve become accustomed to when dealing with Spielberg’s work. Maybe that’s unfair. Perhaps I might enjoy these films more if I had discovered them on a small scale rather than them being shoved in my face as the next great Spielberg film.
Even within its own genre, THE POST falls short compared to other great dramatic journalism films. Just a couple of years ago, SPOTLIGHT deservedly won Best Picture in 2015. Seamlessly effective, SPOTLIGHT told its story on a compelling and emotional level that THE POST doesn’t come close to matching.
The first female publisher taking a huge leap of faith to do what’s right without being bullied into submission and the protection of Freedom of the Press through the First Amendment – these are messages and historic moments that I absolutely value in THE POST. I absolutely recommend the film for those who are interested in the material, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this is the greatest film of the year because of those involved and what it is about. Unfortunately, outside the production, THE POST is just not to the level that it needs to be, to be considered great.