Movie Review: “The Post”

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Aaron Coopersmith | mcoopersmith@radford.edu

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The Post, is the story of the Washington Post dealing with the intense and controversial decision to publish papers that would unwrap the lies of the American occupation being successful in Vietnam in this 70’s drama.

Having grown-up in DC, I felt a strong obligation to see how Spielberg depicts a DC staple. The film left me quite satisfied with a bit of a strange aftertaste. This movie is obviously “Oscar-bait,” with its premise and period-piece style. Yet, I cannot say that I disliked it.

The two acting juggernauts of Tom Hanks, playing The Washington Post’s Editor, and Meryl Streep, playing as the post’s publisher, did a fantastic job on displaying the themes of truth and having a voice. Tom Hanks did an incredible job in letting the audience feel a passion for making sure the truth gets out to the people. Even with Tom Hanks’ age, we still see him put the same amount of effort into every character he plays. Meryl Streep did a tremendous job showing the transformation of a soft-spoken and shy woman into someone of confidence. This change in Streep was significant to show the symbolization that The Washington Post had become a more serious and confident paper.

Next, we come to the cinematography of the film. What I can say is that Spielberg did not take the usual shots that he has done in the past. He added a lot of one takes and tracking shots in his scenes, which was supposed to give the viewer a sense of realism. At the beginning of the film, we get these tracking shots that follow a character into the environment instead of just seeing it from a distance. These shots allow the viewer to take in the atmosphere better than quick pace cuts and ‘tracking shots.’

Except, there were times where it didn’t sit well with me. With the first one take following an intern entering The Washington Post, it was pointed up towards the characters; pretty much allowing you to see a bit below the waist and up. This choice seems awkward since low angle camera shots are supposed to make the audience feel that there is a higher power above us, yet later we find that The Washington Post does not really have a ton of influence.

This was not the only awkward choice by Spielberg; there were multiple times where characters would talk over each other at such a fast pace, I would find it sometimes hard to keep up. Now, I understand that this choice in dialogue is a method to show the intensity of conflicting opinions. Except every time characters would have conflicting views they would take over each other continuously. By the third time it happened, it overstayed its welcome.

Even with its blemishes, I would still endorse for people to see it. This movie was a chance for Spielberg to try something new and most of the time he succeeds. Dramas based on real events can sometimes be challenging to express the intensity of the conflict when we as viewers already know the outcome. In the back of my mind, I already knew that The Washington Post would triumph its adversity while risking its existence because I have read it every morning.

Spielberg does it right, by making the viewer forget about the present and for a while cause the audience to feel like their living in a different time, showing us more than a paper, but of people striving for the truth.

Picture credit: (www.movetavern.com): https://www.movietavern.com/movies/__trashed-9/