Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) inherited the Washington Post from her husband when he died. The Post is struggling trying to keep up with the national papers and is seen as a regional publication. Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is an editor at the Post. He tries to balance newsworthy stories with what will help the newspaper.
Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has secretly copied decades worth of documents from the government relating to its failed attempts at handling the issues with Vietnam and a bleak outlook on the US involvement in the war. Daniel had given the reports to reporters at the New York Times. The Times started publishing stories based on the documents. The government responded by filing an injunction against the paper to stop them from publishing any more information gained from the stolen documents.
As the case against the Times starts to move forward, Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk), a reporter for the Post, is given a portion of the stolen reports from Daniel. He takes the report to Bradlee to see what kind of story they can get from the portion they have. Seeing what is going on with the Times, Kay is torn as to whether she should publish anything on the papers. Her decision could have potential impact on the implications of the First Amendment.
The Post is based on the true story of the publishing of the Pentagon Papers related to the war in Vietnam.
Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the cast is, of course, top-notch. Along with Streep and Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Rhys, and Alison Brie all give decent performances. This is to be expected with this caliber of stars. While they do the best the can, the problem is more with the source material and the pace of the film.
The story feels particularly timely. Not only does Kay have to deal with the sexism surrounding the only female newspaper publisher in the 1970s, she must also face the government trying to control what newspapers can and cannot publish. It almost feels as if it is a direct commentary to the world we currently live in.
Sadly, the execution is a bit lacking. The result is a very slow paced film that seems to lack any urgency. This is especially true when compared to 2015’s Spotlight, which went on to win Best Picture that year. Where the passion of the reporters and the desire to uncover the story was felt in Spotlight, The Post feels more cold and sanitized.
While an important story, not even an A-List cast can save this film from being boring. Watch it to get a reminder of the importance of a free press, if you can sit manage its slow pace. Wait for the rental on this one.