Marking the outstanding union of the incredible Meryl Streep, the magnificent Tom Hanks and the master Steven Spielberg for the first time, THE POST is an inspirational reminder of the importance of a free press so vital in today’s parallels.
Serving excellently as a classic period detective yarn on journalism based on the historical summer of 1971in American when the Pentagon leaks reported by The New York Times, followed by The Washington Post, established the lies told by the government to the people of America about the Vietnam War.
The movie opens with Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) typing notes in the Vietnam combat field, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) is aware that the war policy has gone wrong but McNamara at an airport press conference speaks in favour of the War. Perturbed by the double standards, Ellsberg – a research associate at the Rand Corporation, has access to the whooping 7,000 pages of the study. The whistle is blown; the secret information is shared with Neil Sheehan the reporter of the Times.
Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) executive editor of The Washington Post and Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) the newspaper’s patrician publisher agree on restoring the image of the daily from a ‘local’ paper to a great newspaper but they differ on the means to achieve this goal. Time is running out and the race begins to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers - and their very freedom - to help bring long-buried truths to light.
Like the confidence shown in LINCOLN in capturing the era, Spielberg deftly handles the surroundings during the Nixon era in America in this film with sheer confidence. In a way it is a story about taking risks, keeping the country and the interest of the people before your own, this may sound cliché but the message that comes out in the end that the fight for free press is an ongoing process, pushes the envelope.
CITIZEN KANE, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, WAG THE DOG, SPOTLIGHT, THE POST is a welcome addition to this elite club of movies on journalism that keep the torch of truth and freedom of press high. Though according to me the crown is still owned by ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN as it was about 70’s and made in 70’s.
However, Spielberg has over time and gain displayed his incredible arc of filmmaking in different genres, right from JAWS, E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, JURRASIC PARK, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, SCHINDLER’S LIST, MUNICH and here too at the age of 70, the maverick displays his command over narration especially during the boardroom scenes, the dilemma Ben goes through, the way Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian) follows the lead on public phones.
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer pen an engrossing, involving and probing script and with the occasional sprinkle of sly humour, THE POST turns more riveting.
On the flip side it may be a bit leisurely paced for commoners who care a damn on what they are watching and treat cinema purely for fun and entertainment.
Performances are of highest orders. Starting with Meryl Streep who never goes wrong in her nuances and here as Katharine Graham the newspaper’s patrician publisher who initially finds herself in a world surrounded by men slowly and surely comes to her own terms and delivers a striking portrayal of a strong influential woman who knows what she wants.
Tom Hanks is simply brilliant, be his dilemma, his inability to give time to his family, his hunger to break a good story all is delivered in an excellent performance that remarkably looks effortless. Hanks body language, posture of a ballsy urbane editor with tugged in shirt but folded sleeves comes with great force.
Bob Odenkirk is excellent and has outstanding moments during his investigations.
Bruce Greenwood is marvelous while the rest of the cast that includes Jesse Plemons, Sarah Paulson, Alison Brie, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Matthew Rhys, chip in with valuable support.
Bollywood contribution in uplifting the flag of fearless and free journalism in the mainstream format is somehow restricted after the the exceptional NEW DELHI TIMES that starred Sashi Kapoor, movies like PAGE 3, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA showed some vigor but didn,t go deep in debating the position of the institution which is challenged by powerful forces.
THE POST comes at the right time and makes it a significant watch. Be it America, India or any other democracy, The power of the fourth estate – The media is to keep a check on the governors of the nation and not to be governed by them. The fight for free press is constant and should go on. THE POST remarkably highlights this message in bold in a movie based on the 1971 Pentagon leaks that even today has something to chew on.