Tom Hanks. Meryl Streep. How did it take this long to bring these actors together? I mean, these are two of the most beloved actors in recent years. You’d think this team up would have happened a lot earlier. Just as criminal is how Meryl Streep’s never been in a Steven Spielberg movie until now. Well, maybe they were waiting for the perfect story for all of them. They found it in The Post, an engaging biopic of a newspaper company who risked everything to expose the American Government’s misdeeds.
As the first woman news publisher, Katherine Graham (Streep) has a lot of expectations to live up to. Meanwhile, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) and his crew face the usual task of finding newsworthy stories while trying to get access to the wedding of Richard Nixon’s daughter. Meanwhile, the New York Times is having a field day with leaked Government documents from Military Analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys). They would give anything for a story like that.
Well, that story comes to them when a section of those leaked documents is dropped on their doorway. What those documents reveal is a web of lies weaved by the US Government that goes as far as the Truman era. For Bradlee, this goes beyond just a news story to a moral obligation to hold the government accountable for its lies. But when the Nixon Administration bans the New York Times from publishing more documents, the Post faces the threat of prison if they publish. On top of that, Graham is friends with Nixon’s military strategist Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). While his crew tries to get the rest of the documents from Daniel Ellsberg, Bradlee must persuade Graham of the importance of publishing these documents.
A Spielberg film is almost always guaranteed to be a worthwhile watch and this one doesn’t disappoint. He keeps you hooked on the drama as he takes you into the effort that goes into publishing stories. He has cameras follow Bradlee and his crew in and out of offices as they gather and debate information, making you feel the importance of their work. What helps keep this engaging is the screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. Singer applies the same skills applied to his Oscar winning script Spotlight to turn the act of journalism into a political thriller.
You also have a lot of great performance throughout. Hanks and Streep have excellent screen chemistry whenever they are together. As always, Streep gives an excellent performance as a woman with a passion for the Washington Post. On the surface, she maintains a calm, professional demeanor, but her private time reveals that stress that comes with running a paper. In the most powerful scene, she is faced with the decision whether to publish the documents. Streep reveals a lot of internal struggle through her eyes as Graham sits alone in her desk while everyone waits for her decision.
The most overlooked standout is Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian. He represents the journalist who does the unglamorous job of making phone calls in hopes one will get a lead. Though his actions aren’t as glamorous as journalism is usually portrayed, Bagdikian gets the most results in getting the rest of the documents.
The Post arrives at the perfect time. With the notoriously thin-skinned liar Donald Trump attacking the press every day, a real-life tale of journalism holding the government accountable is more relevant than ever.