Originally Published on Salty Popcorn
Spielberg takes us back to the fast talking newsrooms of the Washington Post, 1971. The paper is struggling to maintain readership, with head publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), the first female to come into such a position, under questioning for whether or not she’s capable to being in charge. Big shot editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) needs a big story fast, or else the competition will get too far ahead and the Post will be left behind in the gutter. Then, unexpectedly, the company receives a series of documents detailing classified, highly detrimental government secrets in relation to the Vietnam War. Ben and Kay are put in the uncompromising situation of choosing whether or not to publish, which could create a necessary boost in readership, but at the risk of tearing down everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
What ensues is a rebuttal for both sides, where characters get into heated debates over the morality and necessity of whether or not the public deserves to know what’s written in these classified papers, which detail decades of lies and corruption. It’s a thrilling portrayal of the media’s lasting impact, not just in relation to the subject matter on hand, but on people of all classes. Tom Hanks delivers an impactful, memorable speech about the state of his friendship with JFK prior to his assassination, putting the world of media and journalism into a limelight it’s not typically put in. This was the beginning of a turning point for these people and these companies, and the story is told through fascinating fast-paced dialogue exchanges high in tension and snappy in movement.
The colour grade verges on unpleasant, but it just falls shy, using a typical Oscar-film approach that’s hit or miss based on personal preference (for me, I hate over-exposed shots, and THE POST uses them stylistically so I’m torn). But it’s the cinematography that steals the show. For a film confined to small rooms over long periods of time, Spielberg and his go-to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski manage to make the most of the camera’s movements. It’s fast and always on the roll. Kaminski gracefully maneuvers his way through various newsrooms and luxurious houses, constantly using long shots and really allowing these actors to take their time in delivering truly remarkable performances that go beyond what we expect.
Let’s be real though, you knew this film was going to be good. If I’m being perfectly honest, the trailer, while good, was nothing special. I wasn’t jumping with excitement in similar fashion to my excitement for PHANTOM THREAD, but I had the utmost faith in what this film was going to deliver. Every card was played right and played effectively, and what comes from it is an excellent way to really kick 2018 into gear.
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