The Post Review:
2.5 Palm Trees out of 4
by Manuel Reynoso
The Post is a 2017 American historical drama directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. Starring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee. The Post depicts the true story of the Washington Post’s involvement with the leaked Pentagon papers, highly classified documents detailing the United States’ difficulty to end the Vietnam War.
Historical Dramas tend to be an easy sale for me. They are almost always relevant to the times, while also being pretty entertaining. To The Post’s credit, all that applies to it as well, but I do find it to be a little too predictable. Now, predictability has always felt like a loaded complaint to me. The very nature of screenplay writing itself is very formulaic, but there’s still enough creative freedom to subvert expectations, which is what I felt The Post failed to do. So while The Post had fantastic acting and great subject matter, I found myself not as engaged as I would have liked.
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep’s performances were great, there is no doubt about that. However, I do think their performances were almost squandered on poorly fleshed out characters. Ben Bradlee is almost a caricature of the romanticized newspaper editor, and the amount of time dedicated to Katharine Graham’s social life was just not engaging more me. While it helps fleshed out the stakes that she faced during this time, I couldn’t find enough interest in it to justify the time spent on it. It felt almost outside the main story at times, and I do believe a lot of it could have been cut out for time spent on more engaging story beats.
While the personal narratives of these characters wasn’t engaging, every scene involving the Washington Post and the investigation into the Vietnam War documents completely engrossed me. The journalists and writers operating together as a single unit felt like a character itself. I felt the character development was best shown through Washington Post itself as an organization, more so than with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. It was absolutely a story more about the group than the individual, and I wish there would have been more time spent on the men and women who made this newspaper possible.
With a bit more focus on the Washington Post’s involvement in the investigation, I felt The Post would have better exemplified the importance of an independent newspaper. Every bit of the subject matter felt as relevant today as it did back then. The actual story The Post illustrates is where the film wins me over. A story of government corruption and questionable war motives and how media can provide a check against it is really the kind of story we can learn from right now. While It has its problems, the overall story is definitely worth the watch. PG-13 1h56m