Review: “Spotlight”

Spotlight is the newest film from director Tom McCarthy that follows the “Spotlight” team of investigative journalists from the Boston Globe, which exposed the Archdiocese of Boston’s cover up of pedophiliac priests from the last 70’s until the early 2000’s. The film stars Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo as the main investigators into the church and follows the actual investigation launched by the team at the Boston Globe.

I will simply state at the beginning that “Spotlight” is a very well made film that keeps you engaged throughout the runtime. Even in dealing with its extremely sensitive subject matter the film never comes across as burdensome or exploitative of the topic. It runs in the similar vein of “Zodiac” and “All the President’s Men”, films about investigative journalism. “Zodiac” was about never knowing the truth, but about constantly chasing shadows, whereas “Spotlight” the ending is already known, the drama comes more from how prevalent this was; How many people had covered up for these serial pedophiles and what kind of ghosts a town can’t cover up. The film takes place in Boston and depicts Boston as an enabler of the Church, however the power of the Catholic Church, as well as its tradition in society caused people to turn a blind-eye. It may take an outsider and objective thinking for cooler heads to prevail. Which brings up maybe the film’s best actor and what gets this all going the character Marty Baron played by Liev Schreiber.

At the start of the film it takes an outsider, a Jewish man from Florida, to come in and realize that this is a huge story, which of course it objectively is. There’s a sense really throughout the picture of how invested the people of Boston are in their city, the pride of that city which in many respects includes the Church. Liev Schreiber is so good at carrying seemingly innocuous scenes and really does pull the film along even though his part seems to generally be less flashy than one would assume. He’s deserving of any accolades thrown his way and is one of the best performance I’ve seen this year. The whole cast is filled with extremely reliable actors, I wouldn’t say anyone blew me away, but there is a respectability to watching professionals at work and everyone services the film very well.

Spotlight is going to be a sure contender during the award season as it should be. It’s a very well made film with great actors, although it may not have Oscar baity moments, or the kind of drama that Best Pictures generally have. It follows journalists doing their jobs and ultimately isn’t an overly optimistic story. I remember watching however with clamped fists and being angry throughout the movie. “How could this happen?” I’d constantly asked myself and there’s a particular scene in which Mark Ruffalo’s character has an outburst that feels spot on. It’s as if McCarthy knew the audience would feel the tension that had built throughout the story and knew that this moment would be crucial. It doesn’t feel like manipulation however and that’s really the marks of a great director, never to see him working.


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