Set in the 1970s, The Post depicts the efforts of the Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers (classified documents detailing some of the shady political decision making that went on during the Vietnam War) amid legal backlash from the Government. Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, owner and publisher of the paper, who is often overruled by her male juniors but essentially has final say over everything the paper does; while Tom Hanks plays the paper’s editor Ben Bradlee. The heavyweight actors and timely message about press freedom make it hard to find fault with The Post, but it didn’t do anything to particularly wow me either.
Once it hits its stride after a sluggish start, The Post has an interesting story that’s well told in the words of Liz Hannah and Josh Singer via some naturally solid direction from Spielberg, but it’s pretty timid and never produces enough urgency to be truly gripping. Sure, it highlights the importance of press freedom, sure, it succinctly portrays the challenges faced by a female boss in a man’s world, but that lack of real tension makes the whole thing feel somewhat bland and akin to a lecture. You leave having learnt exactly what you expected to at the outset. And that’s it.
Obviously, Hanks and Streep deliver solid performances but I didn’t find either particularly spectacular (or Oscar worthy …). Nothing about The Post hit me emotionally and it probably says a lot that the most memorable thing about the film is some sharp editing in the printing press scenes (in fact the old school printing press might be my favourite thing about The Post!). I found the end of the film alienating because I know very little about US presidential history … and now I’ve abruptly run out of things to say.
The Post delivers a well-told depiction of an interesting story but fails to be gripping, exciting or anything to rave about.
Overall, I give The Post a rating of 3.5/5.