The Post's retelling of a time when the free press and the US government clashed couldn't be more topical in today's media climate of fake news and media commodification.
The frailty of free speech is thrown under the spotlight as the film (the latest in director Steven Spielberg's burgeoning catalogue of political dramas) relays the events leading up to the infamous Watergate scandal. Focusing on a tense few weeks during 1971, the film recalls The Washington Post's anguish over whether to publish portions of the Pentagon Papers — a damning classified report chronicling America's dubious involvement in Southeast Asia post World War II.
It was enough information to bring the US government to its knees, but a couple of roadblocks were in their way. Most notably, The New York Times had already published some of the papers and had had the Espionage Act thrown back in its face. A fate The Washington Post could sorely afford given the unfortunate timing of their plans to float on the stock exchange.
Meryl Streep plays America's first female newspaper publisher, The Washington Post's Kay Graham, with Tom Hanks playing editor Ben Bradlee giving a street-level perspective. The bastion of free speech relies on Graham's fortitude of character and Streep convincingly wears the weight and anguish of her responsibility.
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The film's setup renders the first half a very dry affair. So dry, you'll be in need of drink rather than a toilet stop. But the film's weighty expositions are necessary to give credence to the sheer magnitude of what was at stake. The second half flows with more vigour and although it doesn't offer the formulaic intrigue of a Grisham tale, The Post remains an important historical document that is confidently told by the hand of a master director and two of America's finest actors.
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running time: 115 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: Anyone lambasting the role of media needs to see this film.