Solid drama with history behind it.
Director: Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan)
Screenplay: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer (Spotlight)
Cast: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Tom Hanks (Sully)
Runtime: 2 h 33 min
by John DeSando
Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks): So, can I ask you a hypothetical question?
Kay Graham (Meryl Streep): Oh, dear. I don't like hypothetical questions.
Ben Bradlee: Well, I don't think you're gonna like the real one, either.
Although I lived through the commotion of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times and the Washington Post, it doesn’t seem half as exciting in my memory as it is depicted in Steven Spielberg’s The Post. This docudrama is in the tradition of fine films like All President’s Men, Spotlight, and numerous other quality journalism films.
Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post, and Kay Graham, its publisher, duke it out over whether or not to publish the papers purloined by Daniel Ellsberg about the government’s secret promotion of the Vietnam War. Even Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) knew the US couldn’t win the war. Hence, thousands of young men went to their deaths for political expediency sanctioned by presidents from Truman on down.
The excitement at The Post can be felt through the movie screen, a tension wrought from both sides about the privileges of war-time secrecy versus the freedom of speech of newspapers supporting the public’s right to know. Yet, the director and writers Hannah and Singer play on another tension: the emergence of a strong woman, Graham, into a leadership position in a male dominated world.
Given that most of the docurama is from the liberal point of view, with only McNamara there to defend the White House’s conservative power play, the film is Spielberg all the way with smooth camera work and a thematic emphasis on the righteous side of things. Regardless of his politics, the director can tell a story that places you in the middle of things. And I lived through the history without enjoying its revelations, as only a gifted filmmaker can make real and compete for Oscar.
You’ll love the dialogue, acting, and contemporary relevance!
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com