Movie Review: The Post



The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg, premiered on Jan 12. 2018. Set in the 1970s, the thriller tells the story of the first female newspaper publisher, Katherine Graham.

Dan Friedman, Staff Writer

Steven Spielberg brings yet another gripping and thrilling drama to the big screens. Pairing up Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks for the first time, he has produced a great film.

The Post, released on Jan. 12, follows the story of the Washington Post and its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a series of documents exposing lies that the government had been telling about the war in Vietnam.

The action begins when Daniel Ellsberg, played by Matthew Rhys, begins to copy the secret documents and give them to a New York Times journalist, Neil Sheehan, played by Justin Swain. Sheehan published the papers in an exposé, causing the government to take the Times to court.

Ben Bagdikian, a member of the Post played by Bob Odenkirk, gets access to the Pentagon Papers. Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, then prepares the paper for the next day. Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, in the midst of taking the company public decides to publish the article. Soon after, the Post is taken to the Supreme Court, and they win.

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski set the movie in a 1970’s light. He uses just the right about of grain in the lens and light on every object to make you feel like its a different time.

Meryl Streep does an excellent job playing Katherine Graham. Streep portrays her as a strong woman in a business dominated by men. Everyone doubts her ability to take the company (The Washington Post) public, along with her ability to make important decisions, but Streep makes Katherine look confident and canny. She makes bold but correct moves for the paper, such as deciding to publish the Pentagon Papers despite knowing that there will be legal pushback.  

Alongside Streep, Tom Hanks does a wonderful job as Ben Bradlee, portraying him as a dogged and fierce journalist. He is upfront and brazen, constantly attempting to do things his way. Bradlee is so determined for news that he sends an intern to investigate Sheehan because he hasn’t published an article in a while and ends up finding out about the Pentagon Papers.

As a supporting role, Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian provides his unique and clever sense of humor to the movie. Odenkirk exemplifies his wit while bringing the papers back to the Post,  when a flight attendant implies he must have precious cargo, looking at the box of documents sitting on the chair next to him. He casually responds to this by saying that it’s “just government secrets.” This banter is a great compliment to the serious and intense roles played by Streep and Hanks.

Another standout about the film is the underlying idea that the first amendment must prevail. The struggle for the Washington Post to fight against Nixon and the government trying to stop them from publishing the papers exemplifies this.

Overall, this movie takes a deep approach into the process of what many believed was just the Washington Post piggybacking onto a story that the New York Times had published and done all the work for. Spielberg demonstrates the involvement and work that the whole team puts into the article and all the little aspects that affected how they could eventually be able to publish in the end. In addition, Spielberg uses this platform of major media to express the ideals and capabilities of women in major business roles through the Meryl Streep/Kay Graham character.