The Post Movie Review
“I’m going to go to bed now.” That, my friends, may be one of the most satisfying lines of dialogue you’ll hear all year, and it comes from the dagger lips of Meryl Streep in Steven Spielberg’s latest, the entertaining, fast-paced, timely, feminist, important, award-caliber drama The Post.
Treated like a thriller despite being about a newspaper owner and editor debating whether they should defy the government and publish the Pentagon Papers, evidence of a massive government cover-up that spanned multiple presidencies and led to the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.
Streep is fantastic with her best performance in years. She plays Washington Post owner Kay Graham, who, despite succumbing to the whims of men throughout much of the film, emerges as a feminist hero. Tom Hanks matches her step for step as Post editor Ben Bradlee, giving a gruff, sort-of out-of-character performance that is full of energy and inertia. The two, along with great supporting cast, combine for one of the great acting spectacles of 2017.
The Post itself is an extremely satisfying, crowd-pleasing and accessible film that, while not perfect, makes up for its flaws by being a direct response to modern government overtures that threaten or attempt to delegitimize many of the most credible news agencies in the world.
There’s no need to beat around the bush: the movie is a direct reaction to the Trump presidency and his anti-democratic overtures toward the press. Spielberg didn’t even take on the project until March 2017 and rushed to finish it just eight months later, citing that “history is certainly repeating itself.”
The Post is incredibly timely and important to watch, for it poses the question that has been raised again in the age of WikiLeaks and fake news: what is important for the people to know, and when is it too dangerous to be revealed?
Spielberg addresses the question head on, masterfully crafting a tale that tackles freedom of press, feminism, government overstep and more. The movie is aggressive and operates at a fast pace, but in true Spielberg fashion also pauses at critical times to let the story breathe, the characters develop and his actors do what they do best. The movie also shows restraint, at least until the film’s final few minutes: Spielberg avoids the cliché tropes that he unfortunately has embraced over his last several films, things that maybe were once profound but now come off as gimmicky or even cheesy. As great as Spielberg is, he hasn’t made a truly terrific film in over a decade (sorry, Lincoln was boring-as-f**k); The Post comes as close to his glory days as any.
Sadly, the ending of the movie is marred by some Spielberg clichés - overly sentimental, arguably eye-rolling moments that don’t ruin the movie but that keep it from being undeniably one of the best movies of the year.
The Post is not without its flaws, but they are generally minor. It’s a well made, superbly acted film that demonstrates why Spielberg still operates on a different level than most directors and tells a story that is critically important for today’s audiences to know.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.