Well-timed, well-cast, and well-written, “The Post” asks viewers to choose truth

Mackenzie George, Editor in Chief

Like a good news article, the story never lags. Like a well-cut sports bite, the videography is clean, creative, and draws viewers in. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks anchor as Washington Post mogul Katharine Graham and editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee, and director Stephen Spielberg, true to form, delivers a must-watch in “The Post.”
Graham and Bradlee clash and connect time and time again: over the paper, finances, politicians. By day, Graham the businesswoman shatters glass ceilings and leaves an impressed trail of secretaries in her wake. At night, she plays the delicate, damaged socialite, someone who once rubbed shoulders with the likes of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Robert McNamara. (Throughout the movie, she refers to the former Secretary of Defense as “Bob” and “one of my dearest friends.”)
Hanks, gruff and honest, is a refreshing contrast to the politicians who say little in many words. Bradlee stoically seeks the truth regardless of the consequences.
Wealth, legacy, guilt, and a gauzy white-and-gold dress — all these encircle Graham at one of her parties when her deepest fear becomes a possibility. Bradlee and his crew have spent the entire day locked in his home with 4,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers to be sorted, condensed, and regurgitated in article form. To break the story of these astronomical government misdoings would be a huge coup for the Post. But when the possibility of Graham and Bradlee going to prison comes to light, tensions skyrocket.
As the only skirt in a roomful of suits, Graham’s poker face rarely slips except when faced with the monumental decision that makes the movie: to publish or not to publish? While hindsight is 20/20, it is impossible to overstate the height from which Graham stood to fall.
This feat would not have been possible without Daniel Ellsburg, whom a Vietnam soldier calls “the longhair” when the film opens. His reservations about pinching the papers is apparent as he pauses at the doors of the government office, the documents burning a hole in his briefcase. But observing McNamara lying to the American public and watching young boys die overseas has hardened his resolve. The audience is right there with him. Ellsburg takes the papers.
“The Post” may be filmed through a lens of optimism, but perhaps that is appropriate. Timely and witty, it reiterates a lesson that is sometimes shuffled to the side but ultimately resurfaces: the First Amendment is first in the Bill of Rights for a reason. Without it, where would we — as a country, as individuals — be?