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The Post Review

7 Jan

As a film about journalism, The Post is reasonably entertaining, driven by pros behind the camera and a great performance by Bob Odenkirk. As a film about Journalism, the film struggles to say what it wants to without falling into speechifying and ham-fisted messaging. I’m not going to give the film points for being “relevant to the Trump administration” or whatnot because what matters to me is the execution of that messaging. Unfortunately, the execution here leaves something to be desired. There are so many interesting angles this story can take, and many are in the film; take, for instance, the history of cozy relationships between the media and politicians and its impact on the situation at the time. It’s there, but it feels underdeveloped because it’s ultimately all in service of the safest storytelling mechanisms about capital J Journalism. I won’t judge the story for what it’s not–that is, a more in depth look at the Pentagon Papers themselves rather than a side view of sorts–because there are interesting ideas present in its chosen angle. Why, then, is it so thuddingly obvious to the point that it reduces a story about a woman in a man’s world to a scene in which that woman walks down the Supreme Court steps as a row of young women literally stare at her in awe? It’s interesting that certain arthouse films are criticized for being pretentious when a conventional film like this, one that takes no risks, imbues itself with an even bigger air of self importance. That doesn’t just apply to Streep’s storyline; it also applies to every grand statement made about the freedom and responsibility of the press.

I’ll admit to being biased about these types of films, but I’m getting tired of the Thesis Film that tells us how to think rather than the organically developed drama with relevant themes. It shortchanges the drama of the film. I’m just not sure this basic “will she or won’t she” narrative is enough to sustain an actually insightful look at sexism, business, and the press, especially not when Sarah Paulson is telling us exactly why we should admire Streep’s character or when everything builds up to that aforementioned moment on the steps. Overall, there are some sequences with enough zip in them to make this a 3-star film, especially as it relates to Odenkirk’s dogged reporter character just trying to do the right thing. But I just can’t get behind a film with not enough meat on the bones of any of its various approaches to earn the grandiosity it wants to push.

GRADE: B-

Final point: I’m really happy for the cast and applaud the casting decisions, as this is one of the greatest casts I’ve ever seen. It’s actually Television Heaven. But it also physically pains me to see so many talented actors reduced to mediocre, forgettable roles. I get that there are a ton of characters and not much time, but really? Paulson in a typical wife role? Stuhlbarg with only a few scenes? Coon’s biggest moment being reading off the first few sentences of a Supreme Court decision?

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