It was only two years ago that Spotlight won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a film about journalists searching for the truth in the face of adversity. Now, it’s a territory that Steven Spielberg has delved into himself, to make an intelligent, entertaining drama that is so gloriously cinematic and unrelentingly fast-paced. It’s a bit like Spotlight, just played on fast forward.
Meryl Streep plays Kay Graham, the first female newspaper publisher, who runs the Washington Post, finding herself unwittingly caught up in a battle between the truth, and the Government. Her enterprising, stubborn editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), along with his team of diligent reporters, have somehow got their hands on the Pentagon Papers, a revealing document that unravels corruption and lies concerning politicians and the military – going back as far as The White House. The New York Times have the story too, but an injunction prevents them from publishing, leaving Graham to decide if she’s willing to put everything on the line and let the public know what really happened during the Vietnam War.
Naturally, and unsurprisingly, Hanks and Streep are at the very top of their game, and the film benefits greatly as a result. Given the allure to work with Spielberg, it means that all of the smaller, supporting roles are left in the hands of such accomplished, experienced actors too. Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood and Mathew Rhys all star, to name just a few. There’s even a part for Michael Stuhlbarg, making it likely the underrated actor will be included in three Best Picture nominations at the Oscars this year (the others being Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water); the first to do so since John C. Reilly in 2002. He’s joined here too by Bradley Whitford (Get Out) and Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), to ensure The Post really is collecting all of the very best ‘dad’ performances of the last year.
On a more negative note, the film can become somewhat convoluted in parts, and a touch overbearing, with a whole myriad of facts and characters adorning the screen. Perhaps it’s more disorientating for non-Americans, who may struggle from not having a true grounding of who is who – but thanks to the accessibility of the man at the helm, it’s not particularly challenging. What transpires is an important, pertinent pice of cinema; for in this culture of ‘fake news’, it’s worth appreciating, and reminding ourselves of the sheer importance in telling the truth.
The Post is released on January 19th.