Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, The Post tells two stories (at least). First is the story of the publication of the Pentagon Papers which detailed the United State’s involvement in Vietnam (which spanned four U.S. Presidents) and the cover up of said involvement and the details thereof. The second is the story of Katherine (Kay) Graham (Streep), America’s first female Fortune 500 newspaper publisher. During President Richard Nixon‘s tenure, the Washington Post went to court against the U.S. Government (U.S. v. Washington Post Co., 403 U.S. 943 (1971)) to gain the legal right to publish these classified, government documents. With the help of her editor, Benjamin (Ben) Bradley (Hanks), Kay Graham plays a role in an unprecedented battle between government and journalists after the government attempts to suppress it all. Kay Graham is then charged with making sure freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are protected above all else.
The Post is a great movie in the sense that it demonstrates how far women have come since the 70’s. Ms. Graham OWNED the Washington Post and was disregarded, overlooked, and talked over. One of the most powerful scenes takes place in the boardroom when the men in the room shut her down so severely she lost all confidence in what she knew and remained silent. Admittedly, I may have been projecting a bit, but this part of the film brought the entire Weinstein affair to mind. The silence and the silencing of women and their opinions and thoughts that allowed/allows men to run amok. (Another conversation for another time, so I won’t go into all of that too heavily. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. Just thought I’d mention it.)
The acting, of course, is effortless. With two seasoned professionals who are among the best at their craft, the direction of Stephen Spielberg, and such rich, historical material, you can’t really go wrong. I don’t believe anyone could claim it is a terrible movie, or a sub-par movie, but The Post is not without problems.
Written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post is a historical drama with great historical significance regarding sexism, politics, the relationship between politicians and the press, the lack of understanding and empathy men have toward the blight of women inside and outside of the workplace, the historical and continued dismissal of women’s voices, etc., etc., etc. It is here that the same thing that makes The Post great makes it sort of a drag, holding it back from greatness. It takes on too many issues. Along with Graham trying to balance family, friendships, social standing and this newspaper she inherited from her father by way of her husband, whose suicide she is still mourning; it just covers too much. It’s about Kay, it’s about the newspaper, it’s about the editor and his wife, and their children, and this Supreme Court case, and feminism and silence and patriarchy and free speech and government transparency, etc., etc., etc. Also, the story telling is very boilerplate. We’ve seen it before in a newsroom drama-type movies. I felt The Post should have, at times, made me want to cheer. I felt the triumphant moments where I should have been cheering and I almost wanted to cheer; unfortunately, I never quite got there.
Given today’s political climate, the numerous sexual harassment allegations, the disgust many feel for the current President and his (and much of the public’s) distrust of the media, The Post is, intentionally or not, certainly a timely movie. The problem is, because the parallels are so obvious and so direct, The Post plays like a modern day allegory which alludes to these issues in the modern day too closely; not like the historical piece that it is supposed to be. I understand Ms. Graham’s story is her story and there is nothing to be done about that, but The Post feels heavily bogged down with information, themes and story lines.
The Post earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. I have to stop short of calling it “great.” It is a good movie worth watching for its historical content, but the message gets muddled due to far too much information being packed into one hour and 56 minutes. I can only speak for myself, but I go to the movies for that elusive escape. Most times, I want to be immersed in something that doesn’t directly mirror what is going on in real life on such a large scale; something not so “on the nose,” if you will. And if it is “on the nose,” I need it to be perfectly executed; make me laugh really hard, then make me cry, and then make me think. Move me somehow. Here I was unmoved. If you enjoy a newsroom drama, Streep and/or Hanks and/or Spielberg, or have an interest in law, journalism, free speech and freedom of the press, pioneering women and/or women’s rights, I recommend you see it. I am interested in all these things, but you still may like it more than I did.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
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