Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ features a thrilling narrative

Richard Decker
Staff Writer

COURTESY OF MOVIEWEB.COM

“The Post,” in theaters across the nation, details the story of a reporter on a mission.

“The Post” is the latest Oscar-nominated, expertly-fashioned and captivating social commentary brought together by a legendary director and immensely talented ensemble cast.

The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, features performances by Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson.

Beyond the edge-of-your-seat performances by the cast, the film’s screenwriters, Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, who co-wrote 2016 Best Motion Picture of 2016 winner “Spotlight,” about Boston Globe journalists, truly shine.

It’s 1971 and America is in the midst of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post is a small family-owned paper trying to keep up with the renowned New York Times and Kay Graham (Streep), the country’s first ever female newspaper publisher, hopes to improve its profits by taking the paper public on the stock market.

Meanwhile, news editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is constantly looking for anything that will put The Post ahead of the competition.

The country is shocked after the Times publishes a searing expose with excerpts of a study, later known as the Pentagon Papers, detailing the history of deceit regarding the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam.

After the United States Justice Department, acting under President Nixon, places an injunction against the New York Times to cease publication, Post political reporter Ben Bagdikian (Odenkirk) discovers that old-time friend and source Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has the infamous study. Bradlee must convince Graham to risk the paper’s future and federal prosecution in the Supreme Court and publish the articles.

With 26 combined Oscar nominations under Streep and Hank’s belt, it’s no surprise they blow it out of the water in terms of performance.

Streep’s performance is flawless, and further illustrates her versatility and extraordinary ability to build a character with every nuanced line, movement, and reaction. Streep as Graham rises above the rest of the cast and even Hanks at points, breaking the mold of traditional gender roles and making a name for herself in the face of extreme doubt.

She has a really satisfying character arc throughout the film. The character inches closer to her own metaphorical liberation from the patriarchy after every new line — especially in her dramatic yet graceful scene where she reminds Washington Post board members and friends that the newspaper belongs not to her late father or her husband, but to her.

From a directional standpoint, Spielberg dazzles as usual. His decision to incorporate actual video clips of this remarkable time in history adds depth to the film.

His most important decision, I think, was adding the audio recording of Richard Nixon, giving viewers a true historical villain but also showing those who were too young to live through his administration an understanding of the threats from the President.

The film transitions rapidly but fluidly throughout the story, creating a fast-paced excellent movie, elevated by John Williams’s excellent musical score.

While the events portrayed in “The Post” may have taken place in the early 1970s, parallels to today’s society can be made from the underlying themes such as the press exposing scandals of a Presidency, wide-scale political cover-ups and women in positions of power struggling to gain respect in male-dominated fields.

“The Post” is thrilling, persuasive, entertaining, relevant to us today. Undoubtedly, the directing, acting, and musical score come together for what may be Best Motion Picture of the Year and a must-see on the big screen.

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