Donald Trump’s least favorite movie of 2017.
There’s no doubt the rising political tensions in America point towards one direction: Donald Trump. Whether you voted for him or not, one must admit his presidency has been a nothing short of a circus. He somehow finds himself in the headlines seemingly every week for all the wrong reasons, and constantly lambasts the media while being so paranoid to the point he labels it “Fake News.” The only President who comes to mind in regards to Trump’s insecure behavior is Mr. Watergate himself, Richard Nixon. After countless films of eviscerating him, Steven Spielberg decided it was time for him to once again put his history teacher’s hat on and give us a lecture on the Washington Post’s rise to prominence by exposing Nixon’s hubris of continuing the Vietnam War in The Post.
The Post sees newspaper heiress Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) attempting to balance her politically connected social life with the responsibility of being the publisher of Washington D.C.’s local newspaper, “The Washington Post”. Meanwhile, the paper’s editor in chief, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and his staff chase after a source who advised President Lyndon Johnson and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) that the U.S.’s efforts in the Vietnam War were fruitless. When the source delivers them over 20 years worth of secret government documents highlighting the U.S.’s knowledge of their hopeless war but continued to send soldiers there to die anyway, the newspaper is at a crossroads: either publish the documents to expose the government’s conniving deception of the public, or risk federal prosecution at the hands of the government and go to prison.
The Post is undoubtedly a timely subject matter due to the spotlight currently on the Trump administration’s weekly battle with the news media. It makes sense that in times like these Hollywood rallies together in some way to teach us a lesson on past transgressions and highlighting how the American public continues to make the same mistake over and over again while also giving them a glimmer of hope that we can improve in the future. Spielberg has become a master of taking audiences to school and re-enacting important moments in U.S. history, including in films such as Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and Bridge of Spies. The Post is another one of these films, and Spielberg continues his legendary career by showing his mastery of history and transporting audiences to the past with his taut and skilled direction in the film.
The performances in the film are great, as is expected when casting lead actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. As a person who typically cannot stand Streep and believes she is the most overrated actress of all-time, Streep is a fantastic as Ms. Graham. Her ability to show Katharine’s vulnerability and insecurities is breathtaking, and her transformation into a woman of influence by the film’s climax is one of the more compelling character arcs in some time. Tom Hanks is in classic Tom Hanks form as Mr. Bradlee, and he and Spielberg have worked together so well for so long one has to wonder if they’re a package deal at this point. The rest of the ensemble cast also meshes well together, particularly Bruce Greenwood’s turn as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, as he gives a performance that warrants consideration for “Best Supporting Actor.”
Unfortunately for the film, Spielberg wastes the first hour of it with uncompelling drama that includes board meetings, phone calls via a pay phone, and parties you wouldn’t bother RSVP’ing to. It takes too long to get to the most thrilling aspect of the film, the piecing together of the government documents and the decision of whether or not to publish. While the latter half rescues the film and makes up for a lackluster first act, there had to have been a way to keep audiences invested for the entirety of the film, but Spielberg didn’t piece it together well enough. Also, it’s important to note a scene towards the end of the film where Meryl Streep is walking in a crowd of women who are in awe of her. Somewhere, Rose McGowan is pissed. On top of that, we know how this story ends, and for the film to seemingly tease The Post 2: WATERGATE at the very end comes across as a Marvel after-credits stinger, not exactly what one would expect from an awards season contender.
With all of the controversy surrounding the Trump Presidency (*good god uttering those words still doesn’t feel right*) and its similarities to the Nixon administration, The Post couldn’t have been released at a more compelling time in America. While it takes awhile for the film to get going, The Post can be chalked up as another victory for the historian Spielberg due to its gripping final hour and terrific performances. While The Post doesn’t quite reach awards worthy territory, one thing is for certain: it’s Donald Trump’s least favorite movie of 2017.
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars. Pay Matinee Price.
The Post stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alsion Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, and David Cross.