Coming to theaters this Friday from director Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox is a story of dedication to the truth in print from “The Post.”
It is the 1970s and Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is the woman who owns and runs The Washington Post with Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) as her editor. Knowing that there are those who don’t support or trust her running of the paper, Kay takes in what is happening around her to find her voice.
When it comes to their attention that there is someone who has documents that expose the government’s plans in Vietnam, The Post wants them. There is a problem. The man who photocopied the papers, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has gone into hiding and slivers of the information have also been shared with The New York Times.
What is in the papers? That the United States government was not being truthful to the American public about involvement in the Vietnam War. The papers also show the level of involvement went through Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) all the way up to the president.
The New York Times looks for advice about publishing the Pentagon Papers and the government wants an injunction against any further papers be published. In the meantime, reporter Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) from the Post finds Ellsberg and is given boxes of papers and Kay must decide whether to go forward before they are also stopped by the courts.
Bradlee gathers his writers and the clock is set to beat anything or anyone that wants to get in their way. Kay begins to feel the weight of what she is up against and realizes that she knows people that are involved and now must decide what the right thing is. Pressed by the papers all-male board, she realizes that the paper her father build is now
Kay digs in deep and knows that Bradlee will follow her lead.
The truth is worth fighting for!
Streep as Kay Graham once again turns in a performance of a woman who is seen as a lovely decoration to the Post with men telling her what is important and what isn’t for the paper. Of course, her insecurities are clear and Streep portrays the era with perfection. Gaining strength throughout the film, I cheer the hardest when she realizes that if the board of the paper wants to play tough — then she must learn to as well. Nothing wrong with telling the good ole’ boys club that it is “her” paper and that’s how she is going to run it. Streep always gives everything to these roles and makes them not only believable but exceptional.
Hanks as Ben Bradlee is perfection and yes I’m being hugely Hanks-struck. I adore this actor and find him to be the absolute best of Hollywood and that includes the much-misunderstood film “Turner and Hooch!” Of course, I wondered how he was going to portray this character since I do have Jason Robards’ version of Bradlee from the 1976 film “All the President’s Men” stuck in my head. I had no reason to worry!
“The Post” is a perfect film to watch first and then take on the 1976 film because it is a history lesson about the government’s shenanigans from The Washington Post’s articles portrayed by two amazing actors.
Odenkirk as Bagdikian is on it to find the man with the papers. Knowing that this is the most important thing he will work toward, there is a moment where all of it might fall apart and Odenkirk keeps it straight. Rhys as Ellsberg has the worst case of paranoia I’ve ever seen and with good reason. He has what the government is looking for so he’s not about to let go if the information isn’t made public.
Greenwood as McNamara is a man trying to keep his head above water yet Greenwood makes it look smooth and controlled. That’s what I love about Greenwood, whether he portrays a good, bad or indifferent character, he makes it look ridiculously smooth. The scene between Greenwood and Streep is hard to watch and strong for both of them in the scheme of the storyline.
Other cast include: Sarah Paulson as Tony Bradlee, Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe, David Cross as Howard Simons, Zach Woods as Anthony Essaye, Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons, Alison Brie as Lally Graham, Carrie Coon as Meg Greenfield, and Jesse Plemons as Roger Clark.
“The Post” is already high on the nominations for awards and deservedly so. This is a story that needed to be told for so many reasons especially with what is going on in government now. I am an avid watcher of films based on history, and “The Post” not only falls into that category but totally served me up a history lesson.
The caliber of actors and actresses in this film make it extraordinary bringing it to a level that can’t be touched. That is what makes this film for me — a cast that seems to dive right in and take no prisoners mixed in with totally absorbing the time period of the 1970s.
Watching each character take on their own beliefs about why they do what they do comes into play and it can’t be hidden in the film. Spielberg takes his own risk bringing the real news story to the attention of a fake-news world. He keeps the storyline crisp and doesn’t sugar coat anything about what it takes to hold the government accountable when caught lying to its own people.
What this should do for the press is remind them that people do want to know the truth about their government and that not only is that government accountable but so is the press that reports it. I can’t imagine that anyone who reports the news of the world not finding an amazing place in their hearts for the papers/editors and reporters who came before.
In the end – truth be told!