Review: “The Post” boasts strong performances from all

Cameron Coyle

Director Steven Spielberg’s latest Oscar-hopeful begins with the true events of the “Pentagon Papers,” the 1970s controversy which swept the nation after the United States government was exposed for continuously lying about the Vietnam War.

After a brief war scene in the jungle and a token Creedence Clearwater Revival song, which seems to be prevalent in every Vietnam War film, the film shifts stateside where another shot is never fired on-screen. Instead, the audience is treated to a movie where the antagonist is those who try to silence free speech, whether it be for profit or to avoid humiliation.

Once a portion of thousands of pages taken from the Pentagon are printed by The New York Times, President Nixon and the White House attempt to cease any further information from being released by issuing an injunction on the Times.

The owner of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and its editor-in-chief, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), are soon given the opportunity to publish the same papers, but the possibility of an injunction or investors pulling out leave them with a conundrum.

Streep and Hanks knock both of their performances out of the park. Streep’s performance is a reserved, yet strong one. The scenes where she’s at her quietest are the ones where the audience can practically see her decision-making process in her eyes. She ultimately grows throughout the film, commanding more attention every time she is on screen.

Hanks makes Bradlee brash but still a lovable editor-in-chief. He’s forward in both his speech and decision-making which makes him feel almost like the rough rider of the newsroom.

These differing approaches naturally result in conflicting opinions on how to handle the leaked papers.

Graham and Bradlee’s love for The Washington Post is shown in juxtaposed ways, but both are completely understandable, which forces the viewer to have to side with one of the two main protagonists multiple times.

These confrontations are one of the brightest spots of “The Post.” The script is filled with sharp, realistic dialogue, so these conversations never seem to drag on or bore, and comedic relief never feels forced or out of place.

The pacing of “The Post” slows down some toward the end of the second act. After a brilliant scene where reporters stay awake all night working on stories together, the energy of the film takes a dip. The film plods its way to the climax and then partly rushes through it.

However, this is a minor setback in “The Post” which doesn’t deter its entertainment or educational value. The film shows the importance of journalism without being preachy and simultaneously boasts strong performances which will for sure be talked about at upcoming awards shows. Don’t miss it while it’s in theaters.

Features reporter Cameron Coyle can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].