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The Post – Movie Review

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The Post – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Most will describe The Post as timely and there is a certain amount of cheekiness with how it remarks on the American President’s relationship with the press. This could be considered the second historical drama where Steven Spielberg restrains himself and avoids some of his usual directing tactics. Yet The Post, while still well made, could have used those tactics. Spielberg primarily lets his cast do the heavy lifting in guiding the story along. The film is at its best when focused on the newsroom with Spielberg ultimately turning this into a love letter to newspapers. While it may not stand near his most renowned works, this does continue to show how he is one of our most storied and consistent filmmakers.

Spielberg also uses The Post to make a tribute to hard working career women, both long-time veterans and young up-and-comers. This is fitting, since the film was co-written by first-time screenwriter Liz Hannah and produced by former Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal. One can almost see a lot of Pascal in the depiction of Katharine Graham, a woman in a position of power in a boy’s club. Hannah’s screenplay, with additional contributions by Josh Singer, gives the proper context of events to get the ball rolling. Spielberg is all too happy to document the proceedings as he jumps between the various participants.

Spielberg seems especially excited to showcase the constantly moving parts of the newsroom. Janusz Kaminski’s camera sweeps through the Washington Post, allowing The Post to avoid the made-for-television quality of the similarly themed newspaper drama Spotlight. Tom Hanks brings his usual charm to the role of executive editor Ben Bradlee, but also an edge. One can see the wheels turning in his head when he lays his eyes on those all important Pentagon Papers for the first time. Bob Odenkirk also deserves mention as the man who makes the pivotal contact with Daniel Ellsberg. The entire ensemble works well off each other, especially the Post’s employees. There’s something amusing about seeing Odenkirk and David Cross side by side, subtly revealing Spielberg’s affection for their sketch comedy series Mr. Show.

At times, The Post does slow, especially when the focus shifts to Graham dealing with some of her high-profile friends. Spielberg seems so in awe of being in Meryl Streep’s presence, he ties himself to a leash. The Post and Lincoln work as historical pieces, but one misses the snappiness Spielberg brought to Catch Me If You Can. Even John Williams’s score doesn’t create the full-on impact it should. The Post really does work best as a direct prequel to All the President’s Men, although Spielberg appears to want to avoid the comparison. Don’t expect to find Woodward, Bernstein and Deep Throat anywhere on screen.

It seems almost unfair to compare The Post to Steven Spielberg’s vast filmography. However, it does represent his continuing growth as a filmmaker. Spielberg is always on the look-out for new stories to tell and there is genuine interest in the material presented here. The Post manages to work beyond the current political climate and provides us with another worthy entry in the Spielberg canon. It is frequently disconcerting to see Spielberg sometimes dismissed as purely a popcorn or sentimental director, but many of his films will continue to stand the test of time. There is a general good feeling when seeing his name on the screen and he remains a director whose new films should always be anticipated.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison