Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson
Director: Steven Spielberg
The concept of freedom of the press and a sense of political accountability is such a hot button topic lately. So is the role of women moving into positions of power. This film looks at both of these things, in a film that puts Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks together for the first time.
Streep plays Kay Graham, a woman who was thrust into the role of first female news publisher in the 70’s, following the suicide of her husband. When the White House institutes a law suit against a larger paper to gag them from writing the truth about America losing the Vietnam War, Kay’s editor, Ben Bradlee (Hanks) gets his hands on the papers that the government is trying to suppress. Kay has to make the momentous decision of whether to publish the story and alienate her powerful friends and potentially face jail time and the loss of her company.
Kay Graham’s paper, The Washington Post, would go on to break the Watergate scandal, with it’s well known journalists Woodward and Bernstein. In some ways, this film is in the tradition of the film made about that story, All The President’s Men. It’s a story in which journalism is portrayed as a guardian of truth, rather than as a vulture that feeds on human drama. In current times when the press is under fire, it’s a pertinent tale.
That said, it’s not a preachy movie. There are a couple of moments that feel a little staged and cheesey, groups of women watching Graham climb flights of stairs into boardrooms they’re locked out of, for example. But on the whole, the film is a really gripping two hander between two excellent performers. Streep and Hanks are, in my opinion, consistently entertaining and moving actors. The stakes feel all the higher because we know it’s a true story and because the film focuses on the impact on the personal lives of those involved as well as the political ramifications.
I also personally feel that the underdog story is always a winner. When you see Kay Graham patronised and talked down to, and the way she has such courage and grace under pressure, you start rooting for her to take a stand and to win. It’s a highly entertaining film and pulls your heartstrings from start to finish. (Watch out for this film when they’re handing out Oscars)
See It If: you like true stories or films about journalism. It’s a very entertaining and heartfelt film with two excellent leads.