Thursday, 3 December 2015


Spotlight, 2015
Directed by Tom McCarthy
Starring: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James and Stanley Tucci

In 2001, The Boston Globe finds their editor retiring and now are receiving a new editor by the name of Marty Baron. Baron finds himself unsettled by a small story the Globe reported on, that a local priest had molested many children, in various parishes, over several decades and that Cardinal Law knew about it and did nothing. Baron goes to the Spotlight team, headed up by Walter 'Robby' Robinson. Spotlight is a small team of investigative journalists who research into large breaking stories for months at a time. Baron urges Robby to have the Spotlight team consider picking this as their next story. Reporters Mike, Sasha and Matt find themselves going deep into the Catholic backbone of Boston, and find out the scale of this sexual abuse scandal is much larger than first believed.

Spotlight is a film that is 100% focused on the investigation of the huge sexual abuse scandal that shook Boston (and indeed the world) in the early 2000's. This film felt like a movie that stayed so true to the facts, but also managed to make about that is purely about investigation (and little to none character side stories) an extremely interesting story. Spotlight's strength lies in the fact that it knows what to focus on and where the purpose lies. This film isn't about the people who cracked this scandal open, it's a movie about helping those who have been victims in the past. And as such, this film was treated with such delicacy and respect, but was still a compelling and damning film.

The film focuses on various different victims interviews and really underlies the facts and the feelings about these victims, but also focuses on the Spotlight team, and how they are connected with the Catholic church and this scandal. They share that so many of the victims were no longer alive to tell their stories. And that, in fact, this abuse was not just sexual abuse, but it was also spiritual abuse, too. Abuse like this, especially from a religious leader, can shake someone to their very soul and cause such permanent damage to their beliefs. As well, the movie doesn't place 100% of the blame on the Catholic church. Indeed, as one of the character states, "if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one." This sums up the thesis of this movie so well.

I won't go into much more of the actual details of the story, because I'd love to leave you all to see it for yourself. Watching this movie was I expect reading the eventual Spotlight article was like. Information was dropped at a perfect pace, and it became so increasingly hard to believe. All you could do was sit there and shake your head, not really able to believe that everything that happened was true. In that, the writing of this film was really great. As I mentioned, the pace at which the pieces of the puzzle came together and that information dropped was perfect. The film was incredibly damning and it was just so heartbreaking to watch. The detail that we get from various victims shattered my heart for them. No moment feels like it's trying too hard to pull heartstrings. People are just stating the brutal truth, and it's there that it hurts.

The performances, to me, were not necessarily the strength of the film, but were still very good performances. Mark Ruffalo to me, was particularly very good. And Rachel McAdams, it's nice to see her finally get some great work. I hope this is a trend that continues for her as she's always had this potential, but has never really had a showcase for it until now. However, Michael Keaton was good, but I don't understand the hoopla, at this moment. To each their own. And even the smaller roles of Brian d'Arcy James, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber were all on top form. There was no weak link in this cast. And while no one got hugely emotional or "Oscar-y" moments, everyone brought their A-game to their respective characters. Liev Schreiber, in particular, while his part was quite small, I was extremely impressed by him. Shame his role was not larger.

Spotlight is a masterclass in journalism film. It's a film that could've easily been much less good than it was. Indeed, unnecessary back stories could've been added, the film could've been much more dull, and it could've been less true to the story. However, Tom McCarthy carefully handles the direction of this and produces a fantastic and damning film. It's definitely an "important" movie, but it's also such a well-made film. It definitely deserves all the praise that's being heaped upon it. And while I don't know if I would rate this my #1 favourite film of the year, it's definitely one of the years most well-made and important, as this is an issue that is far from over. And it's frontrunner status as our Best Picture winner is incredibly deserved.

Acting- 8/10
Directing- 7.5/10
Screenplay- 9/10
Visuals- 7/10
Music- 7/10
Emotional Connection- 9/10
Entertainment- 8/10
Rewatchability- 7/10
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10
Overall Package- 8/10    

Total: 78.5/100

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