Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 116 mins

Star Rating: 4/5

IN 1971, The New York Times successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of a free press in response to a challenge from President Richard Nixon to suspend publication of classified reports detailing US military involvement in Vietnam. Director Steven Spielberg's handsome dramatisation of events leading up to this legal showdown feels uncomfortably relevant in a modern era of fake news and presidential Twitter outbursts. The Post is also a timely depiction of gender inequality in the workplace and lionises the achievements of Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post.

Meryl Streep delivers a tour-de-force portrayal of Graham and Tom Hanks provides robust support as Ben Bradlee, crusading executive editor of The Washington Post.

The film opens in 1966 Vietnam, where military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) witnesses first-hand the loss of US troops and reports back to Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). Fearful that the administration is whitewashing the unflattering truth, Ellsberg photocopies classified reports and leaks pages to The New York Times. Over in Washington, Bradlee (Hanks) reads his rival's front scoop with envy and encourages reporter Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) to chase down a copy of the report so The Washington Post can bloody its nose too.

After a sluggish opening 15 minutes, The Post whirrs smoothly into action, cutting back and forth between Graham and Bradlee's personal odysseys. Period detail is impeccable and Spielberg's frequent cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and composer John Williams add lustre to the stylish project.