The Dickinsonian

Let’s Get Reel: The Post

Lauren Toneatto ’21, Life & Style Columnist

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Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, what more could you want in a movie? Yet, despite having a star-studded cast and creative team, The Post falls short in other aspects.

With the shocking release of the Pentagon Papers, Katharine Graham (Streep) must decide if she wants to elevate The Washington Post beyond just being a family-known publication. To do so, she must continue publishing these government secrets despite a Supreme Court case targeting The New York Times for doing just that. Alongside Ben Bradlee (Hanks), the paper’s head editor, the duo must decide if the release of these publications are in their company’s best interest.

Streep is known for her monumental performances as lead females. From Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady to Miranda Priestly, a cut-throat fashionista, in The Devil Wears Prada, Streep certainly knows how to command a screen. Portraying Graham, the first female chief of a major American newspaper, is right in Streep’s wheel-house. While Streep certainly fills the large shoes set before her, looking the part to a tea; her role within the film displaces her authority. Despite her status, it is not until the very end of the film that Graham finally makes a definitive, executive decision. Before then, she’s known as the head publisher, but is seen more out to eat than in the office. With that, the viewer yearns for more. A female in power should be entertaining on its own; however, the viewers are left with a sea of men all wearing the same shade of blue, resulting in one easily being interchangeable with the other. The pacing and plot of The Post wasn’t pleasing either. At points, it felt repetitive. While the plot focused around the Pentagon Papers, it seemed as if there was only talk and never action. In part this was because of the reality of the situation, based on a true story. Yet, from an entertainment point of view, despite time seeming to stand still, the plot was nonetheless hard to follow. Without advanced historical knowledge, it was unclear that Bob (Bruce Greenwood), as called by family-friend Ms. Graham, was the same person as Robert McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defense, who was at the center of the corruption surrounding the Pentagon Papers.  Also, the beginning of the film opened with Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), a government official, secretly and illegally photocopying top secret government documents. However, the plot soon shifts to Ms. Graham and Bradlee, making Ellsberg, who in the beginning was not yet named, seem insignificant, if not already forgotten. Therefore, his appearance later on comes with confusion and less of an impact because he is not immediately recognizable.

Overall, The Post was simply fine. But with Oscars looming just around the corner, being “only okay” doesn’t warrant an award. Nevertheless, The Post has still been nominated for Best Picture, with Streep being honored for Best Leading Actress herself. Between Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks, 44 Academy Award nominations are already under their belts. It’ll be interesting—and surprising—if another win is headed their way.

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Let’s Get Reel: The Post