The Post Film Cut by Mitrajit Bhattacharya

 

It’s Bradlee’s wife, who tells him that he’s not the one taking the risk, it’s Graham who stands to lose everything.

 

There is something about a gritty period drama that celebrates the bond between free press (read: newspapers) and free-thinking humans in the world, even more relevant in a compromised environment like now. The Post, set in 1971, is a Steven Spielberg classic that takes us through a roller coaster ride of how Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) decided to defy threats from the Nixon regime and publish the Pentagon Papers, that exposed a massive cover-up involving the US government and Vietnam. It was the New York Times who started publishing sections of classified information until the President issued a stop order in the name of national security. It was up to WaPo to pick up the story, risking with probable jail terms for the leadership and financial losses for the newspaper for flouting the President’s orders. Bradlee was leading from the front, but the final decision was Graham’s as her family business for decades ran the risk of closure.

The movie works for me on three counts. The script by newcomer Liz Hannah (co-written by the experienced Josh Singer, the screenwriter of 2015 Oscar winner, Spotlight), forms the backbone of the film. Rarely a newcomer gets an opportunity to get a director like Spielberg’s stature to direct his or her script, unless it’s as brilliant as The Post’s.

Spielberg’s rare talent kept the audience hooked with an edge-of-the-seat drama with events that unfolded 46 years ago. Though not new in filmmaking, his uses tapes of Nixon’s original voice to add a realistic grain to the film.

Third, the two central characters at the core of the film, played by two most gifted actors of our generation- Hanks and Streep. Hanks’ ambition as a seasoned editor to see his paper publish the Papers is understandable. He brings a certain chutzpah to the character. However, it’s Streep’s personification of Graham that comes in sharper focus as her character transforms from being a member of a powerful media owning family to the hard-nosed publisher about to take one of the biggest decisions in media business that would rewrite the future of America and the world.

 

ON SonyLIV

 

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