Edition 26 January, by James Luxford
Three of Hollywood’s most legendary talents align for this fascinating true story, about the courage it takes to speak out against wrongdoing. Directed by Steven Spielberg, The Post stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post in the 1970’s and the fi rst female owner of a US national newspaper. The Post’s reputation and fortunes are dwindling, until the paper’s editor (Tom Hanks) comes across The Panama Papers, a series of leaks that reveal scandalous truths about America’s involvement in Vietnam. Facing pressure from The White House and shareholders not to publish the paper, name must decide between what’s safe, and what’s right.
A dispute over the publishing of a news story may not sound terribly thrilling, but The Post strikes at the heart of two very fundamental issues in our society. The first is the freedom of the press, and the right of the public to know when the powers that be are misusing their privileges. Spielberg underlines this importance, always letting us know just what’s at stake as entire newsrooms wait for a phone to ring, or shadowy figures turn up at Graham’s door. The second is the story of a woman making her way in a man’s world. Graham, played with superb vulnerability by Streep, is thrown into her position through the death of her husband, and fi ghts to not be seen as a fi gurehead or puppet of her male counterparts who are mired in 70’s era sexism. Again, Spielberg is excellent in his ability to see things from her point of view, and the combination of great acting and directing is exquisite to watch. Now entering the third act of his career, that of Hollywood’s elder statesman, Hanks is glorious to watch without ever stealing his costar’s thunder. He represents the best of journalism, a grizzled newspaper man desperate to beat The New York Times to a story, but also impressing on Katharine, his boss, just why it’s so important to speak up.
At a time when more people are politically active than ever, The Post is a reminder of just how hard it used to be to stand up for what you believe in. Filmed like the great sweeping dramas of classic Hollywood, it’s a worthy Oscar contender that takes the fi nest creatives the industry has to offer and brings out the very best in them.