You had me at Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and shots of an oldschool newspaper press that will make you question the definition of beauty.
The master Steven Spielberg gathered real star power to tell the story of the publishing process of the Pentagon papers in the 70s. Kay Graham (Mery Streep) owns the Washington Post and struggles with disrespect, fierce competition and the decision of either being silenced or writing about the truth. One compromises integrity and freedom of speech, the other threatens the paper, her family and everything she values.
Visually, this movie can offer organic camera movements achieved through handheld filming and smooth transitions. One of the things that Spielberg does best is making you look at exactly what he wants you to. Framing and sound design are his most effective tools and they strike with brilliance in this movie. In terms of technique, we know he is one of the best. Therefore, lighting design, set design and costumes are all boxes we can happily tick. What I’m saying is, this movie is real pretty. Go and convince yourself with a viewing!
Streep took on the role of America’s first female newspaper publisher (Kay Graham) who tries to honor family traditions while boosting the business and adapting to the rapidly changing world. She starts out as a sheepish, nervous woman whose opinion is ignored and frowned upon. Towards the end she begins believing in her duty as a member of the press and the obligation to tell the truth. And with that, she gains her confidence to make her voice heard and her decisions final. To no one’s surprise, Streep conveys this arc with ease and her chemistry with Hanks is undeniably exciting. Two true icons on screen together!
Hanks portrays the stubborn, frantic and ballsy editor Ben Bradlee who sometimes disregards authority and ferociously believes in the 1st amendment, most importantly the freedom of the press. His demanding nature plays no small role in the future of the paper. By his side stands his wife Tony (Sarah Paulson) who understands the importance of his work but admires Kay’s bravery even more. The movie carries a feminist message, if not front and center. It supports the equal access for women to certain jobs and the resonance of their voices on societal issues. More so, as the plot synopsis suggests, governmental censorship and deception of society are the film’s main concerns.
The “villain” or villainous force is spear-headed by the 37th President, Richard Nixon. His face was purposefully kept hidden from the audience which adds to the concept of a smybolical, and frankly, bigger meaning. As the characters preach, one person should not decide over everyone and the reporters and journalists work together in solidarity to fight a future with this kind of leadership. The only box this movie can’t tick is the stakes. While discussing a fundamentally important question and philosphically reaching the depth of who we are without freedom, nobody ain’t gonna worry about these white people going to jail. One conversation between Graham and Bradlee contains the phrase “vanilla waffle ice cream” which perfectly sums up this film. It’s quite vanilla but this particular flavor is not one of the most popular tastes for those who might or might not have something to do with small golden figurines for no reason.
pictures: via Universal Pictures