The Post (2017)
From the greatest filmmaker of our time comes another politically charged historical drama that’s crafted with care, narrated with flair & exhibits first-rate craftsmanship in all aspects of filmmaking. Marking Steven Spielberg’s fifth collaboration with the ever-reliable Tom Hanks and his very first with the seasoned Meryl Streep, The Post is both timely & topical, for the infamous chapter of United States history it brings to cinematic life resonates strongly with the nation’s current sociopolitical climate. And thanks to Spielberg’s assured direction & excellent performances from its committed cast, it is riveting from beginning to end.
Inspired by true events, the story revolves around Pentagon Papers, leaked classified reports documenting the US government’s decades-long involvement in the Vietnam War that also exposed a cover-up dating all the way back to Truman administration. The plot follows Katharine Graham, the owner & publisher of The Washington Post who is in the midst of taking her company public and is still adjusting to her new duties. Lacking in experience and always overruled by more assertive men, she soon finds herself in a tricky situation when she’s to make the tough decision regarding the publishing of the government’s classified information.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, the genius behind a tad too many unforgettable films, The Post continues his recent fascination with historical events and is another first-rate example of calm, composed & confident filmmaking. In complete control of his craft, Spielberg directs each segment with such precision & wisdom that every scene is compelling, every little gesture is captured, and its patiently unfolding plot brims with a sense of urgency. The script is deftly written, especially the characters’ parts, and while the parallel it draws between its period setting & contemporary scene is commendable, there are times when its muted patriotism seems a bit overdone.
The technical aspects always score high marks in a Spielberg production, and The Post is no different. Production design team contribute with meticulously designed set pieces that recreate its period environment down to a tee. Cinematography is an absolute delight, manoeuvring the camera in a seamless fashion, changing its focus from one character to another with remarkable flexibility, and it effortlessly brings the viewers into the picture. Editing is slick & sharp, balancing the various subplots at play here in a way that its 116 minutes runtime is never felt. And as always, John Williams comes up with a score that not only fits the narrative but uplifts it as well.
Coming to the performances, The Post features a very talented ensemble in Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Carrie Coon & others, and every one of them plays their roles to near-perfection. Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the hard-driving editor-in-chief of The Washington Post and plays his part with remarkable conviction, thus adding another brilliant act to his oeuvre. Streep does even better with her skilfully layered rendition of Katharine Graham and her subtle expressions go a long way in defining her character. All the other actors get their own window to make their respective characters stand out and they utilise it effectively, thus leaving nothing to complain about.
On an overall scale, The Post is sophisticated in all departments of filmmaking and is another polished & high-quality entry in Steven Spielberg’s unparalleled filmography. Confidently directed, smartly scripted, exquisitely photographed, splendidly scored, smoothly edited, steadily paced & outstandingly performed, there is rarely anything that I didn’t like about it and was completely in awe of how all its different elements worked together in near-perfect harmony under Spielberg’s supervision throughout its runtime. Taking artistic license with its material to merge its multiple storylines towards one final outcome, The Post achieves what it set out to do and is one of the finest films of 2017 that presents its cast & crew at the top of their game. Highly recommended.