Steven Spielberg delivers another first class parcel of entertainment with this cunningly constructed real life political thriller.
A prelude to the 1972 Watergate scandal, it sees a newspaper uncover damning evidence the US government knew from a very early stage the Vietnam war could not be won.
Known as The Pentagon Papers, President Nixon demands the documents remain classified information and goes to war with the press.
Tom Hanks stars as Ben Bradlee, defiant editor of the venerable newspaper, The Washington Post. He makes a great double act with Meryl Streep stars as Kay Graham, his inexperienced socialite publisher.
Together they risk their careers, prison, and the existence of the newspaper, to defend their constitutional rights.
And it’s Streep who owns the film, delicately essaying a woman slowly recognising the iron lady within herself. Having won Oscars for lesser performances such as her portrait of Margaret Thatcher, it’s astonishingly the three times Oscar winner been snubbed for the major awards so far.
With a further seventeen nominations under her belt, it’s Streep’s first collaboration with Spielberg, compared to Hanks’ fourth.
With Spielberg’s 31st full theatrical feature being such a marvellously assured affair, it’s all too easy to take the maestro’s elegant filmmaking for granted.
Elevating a straightforward script and setting about his business with diligence and well-honed economy, the worlds greatest living director calls on his years of expertise and craftsmanship to create a timely call to arms against unaccountable governance.
And under the cover of the macho posturing between the White House and the press, Spielberg and his conspirators smuggle in a quietly rousing and inspirational account of female empowerment and emerging self awareness.
I was in inky fingered hot metal heaven watching the majestic printing presses grumble into action. There is a wonderful throw away gag about sub editors which was lost on the non-print journalists in my screening, and the ‘primitive’ technology on show may fascinate, bemuse or terrify online hacks.
A nomination for the Producers Guild of America for best film tells us this is still in the running for the biggest Academy Award, and on Oscar night there’s no reason why this thoroughbred film can’t be first past the post.