4 February 2018

Review: The Post

(Dir: Steven Spielberg, 2017)

The Post is a predictably reliable film. Steven Spielberg directing. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the leads. A real life story that proved an important moment in history. These guys can sleepwalk through a film of this nature and you know it'll be high quality, regardless of it not being close to the best films of their respective careers. There's nothing to fault with the acting here and it's particularly enjoyable seeing familiar faces such as Matthew Rhys and Bob Odenkirk dig into interesting roles – in many ways it's their presence, and the whole supporting cast, that actually lifts the film. The moments of argument and debate over whether they should or shouldn't publish the famed Pentagon Papers are where the film really comes alive.

Thanks to the current political "situation" in the US The Post was rushed into and through production – a clear case of trying to be relevant with an eye on marketability – but that arguably feels a little too detrimental to the film. Watching it without making parallels to the present day is impossible and somewhat distracting. The positive sense of achievement you get from the actions of the staff of the Washington Post in 1971 feel hollow knowing that in 2018 the press are facing an even more alarming problem. And it's not as if a Spielberg drama is actually going to inspire much positive action. If The Post had been released two or three years earlier we would've all breathed a sigh of relief over how far we'd come. But now it's films such as Oliver Stone's Snowden, with the same core theme of disgust at the government and a belief that the public should know, that feel more relevant.

The Post is the sort of drama that Spielberg makes so well, with both Hanks and Streep fitting perfectly into roles of the type they usually inhabit. In other words you know this is a high quality drama even if it's not the best work by any of the parties involved. Just try not to feel too deflated as it reminds you how bad things are today.

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