Film Review: ‘The Post’ Hits America’s Sweet Spot with Hanks and Streep’s Brilliance

In an era where the political climate is tumultuous and the leadership of the presidency has been blurred by corruption and hatred, Steven Spielberg‘s “The Post” feels as important as ever. It truly cements itself as one of the most timely films to hit the theater in years. Helmed by the immaculate talents of Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, in partnership with one of the year’s slickest casts, “The Post” is an embarrassment of riches when it’s on, but can be torpid when its off.

“The Post,” tells the story of a cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor.  The two join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government, marking a landmark in freedom of the press.

Tom Hanks, who has been a force throughout his mid-career, shows his impeccable skill as Ben Bradlee, playing someone we haven’t really seen before.  Already portrayed famously by Jason Robards in “All the President’s Men,” for which he won an Oscar, Hanks brings his own keenness to the role. He ultimately delivers his best work in this film since “Captain Phillips.”

Meryl Streep, who has never lacked in praise, delivers her best work in years. Her film borders in the background for much of the film, only lending a listening ear and responsiveness to what’s going on around her. By the film’s brilliant and masterful ending, we see all the glory that is Meryl Streep, percolating out of the screen with excellence.

With a script by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, “The Post” unfortunately follows the Oscar-winning “Spotlight” as probably one of the finest investigative news films of all-time.  The first 30 minutes or so are unbearably boring, to be compared to a Ferrari trying to get started when the engine is flooded. Once you let the car sit and settle, you can hear that roaring machine come back to life and take it out on the road. Spielberg’s cinematic sensibilities are as intact as ever, marrying the stunning camera work of Janusz Kaminski, costumes by Ann Roth, and music by John Williams. All are hitting on all cylinders. Editor Michael Kahn struggles in the early parts before bringing it home for the final hour.

The ensemble cast is sprinkled delights but they aren’t offered many opportunities in the way of standing out.  Bob Odenkirk and Carrie Coon have some of the most memorable moments simply because of their words. They are afforded in key moments, but nothing else is explored beyond that. It’s always a blessing to have Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, and Bradley Whitford in your film nonetheless.

Looking at “The Post” as a cinematic whole, it can best be described as a very good film that when its “good,” it’s fantastic. When it’s “not good,” it just isn’t. Looking at it from an awards standpoint, it’s an instant Oscar contender and should find its admirers from voters of all generations, as well as general audiences.  It’s as important as ever in today’s murky waters of justice, equality, and free speech.

“The Post” opens in theaters on Dec. 22 in limited release.

GRADE: (★★★)

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