The most surprising thing about The Post is that it is not afraid, by any means, to depict the bad side of the press, and yet Spielberg indeed succeed in glorifying the world of the press.
Why is this surprising? Just remember the political context of the US and the press’ role in such. During the election of 2016, they were the ones hurt the most, as they completely botched the prediction as well as the coverage. In 2017, thanks to the New York Times unveiling of Weinstein and subsequent #MeToo coverage, they went back to be a key part of society, and arguably the real hero (at least superficially).
The dark side is mainly represented by Tom Hanks’ character. While the fact is obvious in the first 15 minutes, as he tries the worst ways to get the news he can’t get, once the whole debate about whether or not publishing the report on the papers, it seems the movie tries to convince us about his morale about ‘getting the truth’.
But here Spielberg does something really remarkable, and it all started by casting someone like Tom Hanks, who is really likable. Because of his genuine, most viewers will buy in the goodness of the character, but there are moments that clearly unmask him for who he is: being the best no matter what. The truth is just part of that goal.
Meryl Streep instead plays the good side – and it’s ironic as Hanks plays the editor while she’s the owner of the Washington Post, by fact inverting the roles of good and evil, as generally, the owner is the one who holds back the editor.
While Streep’s character main goal to survive, she is genuinely interested in getting the truth out there, so much that she unconsciously insert it in the IPO contract.
Despite that, the goal of The Post is not to depict the good and the evil of the journalism world, but rather accounting its redemption (despite Hanks’ of course).
What Spielberg highlights not-so-subtly is that the newspaper (and probably all of them) were nothing but puppets to the politicians and their fake politics. Basically, implied they were completely useless and falling short of their original philosophies.
Because of that, I felt that the Pentagon Papers were used only as a plot device to start the revolution that is still lasting to this day in that environment.
And all of this is exactly what I like about The Post. It is not about journalist being journalists, that was the play-turned-into-movie Spotlight. This is about the change, the revolution. Is, by any means, the accounting of a revolution.
Technically, the movie is obviously flawless. All the actors are on top, the directing is classic Spielberg (so very effective). And of course, the comedy bits work very well.
The Post might not be a masterpiece, but it’s a very interesting movie that is not exactly what it seems. And, for once, it is appreciated.