Director: Steven Spielberg
Talent: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep
Released: 19 January
The Post bounds forth in such a surefooted manner that right from the opening frame I could feel myself leaning back in my seat, happy to surrender to Spielberg’s wiles.
It’s the story of how the owners of The Washington Post held out against extreme pressure by revealing the government knew The Vietnam War was a lost cause for years. We get an intimate look at a bustling newsroom, feeling the vicarious satisfaction of good work well done. Since Spielberg’s previous historical confection Bridge Of Spies felt like a kids’ film that just happened to be for adults, I was initially pleased to find this story had a little more edge. The characters seemed a little more equivocal — sure Hank’s editor is righteous, but he’s also cantankerous, at times downright rude, and Streep has vested financial interests in not upsetting the politicians.
But alas, Spielberg can’t help pole-vaulting into cheeseball territory in the film’s latter stages, getting promiscuous with his sentiment as the characters start to rise to the morals befitting the occasion. I counted three instances where wet-eyed characters were brought to a defiant decision by a framed photograph of some deceased familiar whose legacy needs honouring/dishonouring.
When such scenes are so telegraphed to elicit an emotional response, they actually fail to do so. Our heartstrings are tugged so hard it’s a wonder they don’t snap. It’s possible to feel both moved and irritated at the same time during this movie.
But these quibbles aside, this is constantly entertaining fare. Like a chat with a pandering Grandparent, Spielberg leaves us both cheered, reassured and perhaps a little doubtful he really believes we can go it alone.
Words – Rory Kiberd