The Post

The ultimate acting showdown
Verdict: 
9/10 - A thrilling insight into a pivotal moment of history brought to life by Steven Spielberg and an excellent cast. 
Release Date: 
Friday, January 19, 2018
Written by: 

The Post is a thrilling drama which shows how America's first female newspaper publisher and her editor fought to sustain the freedom of the press after uncovering the Pentagon Papers in the early '70s.

9

With an all-star cast and captivating narrative, The Post makes for must-watch viewing.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, the film opens with U.S. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) accompanying troops in combat during the Vietnam War in 1965, and documenting progress for Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood).

Realising the futility of the battle on a flight home, Ellsberg expresses his views to senior politicians, including President Lyndon Johnson, only to be dismissed. Taking action, he begins surreptitiously copying top-secret documents about Vietnam, dating all the way back to former President Harry S. Truman's administration, and in the early 1970s starts leaking the pages, including details of clandestine activities, to The New York Times.

Determined to compete with the publication, the editor of The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), has his journalists hunt down the documents, with assistant editor Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) successful in tracking down former colleague Ellsberg.

Though they have the piles of disorganised papers in hand, Bradlee's plan to publish the documents, to be known as the Pentagon Papers, comes to a grinding halt when a judge grants a court injunction against further publication by The New York Times.

This means the owner of The Washington Post, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) has to make the tough decision on whether or not to publish the material as a means of fighting for the freedom of the press and sharing the government's long-running deception of the American public, or face serious criminal charges, as threatened by President Richard Nixon's administration.

There's a lot of content packed into just under two hours, with the plot tackling subjects as varied as sexism, feminism, and the role of the press in society.

But it's Kay's dilemmas which are truly intriguing here, with the publisher trying to find her feet after being shoved into the spotlight following the shock death of her husband, and simultaneously struggling to assert her power in the boardroom.

While she has to field advice from the men around her, including McNamara, Bradlee, and Post chairman Fritz Beebe (Tracy Letts), the agonising decisions ultimately fall on her shoulders, leading to some very tense moments.

Predictably, Streep delivers a pitch-perfect performance as Kay, who starts out as a meek socialite and gradually grows in confidence to stand up for herself, her family and her business. Where Kay's story lingers, Hanks drives the narrative forward at lightning speed, adopting Bradlee's mannerisms with aplomb.

In addition to the superstar duo, Spielberg enlists an excellent cast, with Jesse Plemons, Carrie Coon, Zach Woods, Sarah Paulson and Alison Brie all shining in their brief moments onscreen.

Nostalgia permeates the picture, especially when it comes to the use of typewriters and journalists racing to make calls at pay phones, with Spielberg dishing up a fascinating insight into a pivotal moment in history at a pertinent time for viewers.

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