Movie Review – Spotlight (2016)

Director: Tom McCarthy

Stars: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian D’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

The Boston Globe has a ‘Spotlight’ team of investigative journalists. When new head of the Globe Marty Baron (Schreiber) comes in he directs the team to investigate allegations of abuse in the Catholic church. What they find is horrific and terrible, and their year-long investigation brings to light certain truths that will shake the foundations of the city – and the world – to its core.

Spotlight deals with some very traumatic issues but it keeps the focus on the reporters rather than the victims or the perpetrators of the crimes. It’s very much a film about the art of reporting and pursuing a good story, getting sources, piecing together different information to get to the whole picture, and their efforts shed light on a systematic  negligence of the Catholic church. It also shows the toll that these stories can take on the reporters, on their friendships and their relationships and on their own conscience as one character actually stops going to church because of what they discover. The cast are all excellent and it’s only really Ruffalo who gets to sink his teeth into one particularly dramatic scene. The rest of the film is very focused and Tom McCarthy lets the story speak for itself.

I think there are some people who will claim that this film is attacking the Catholic church, but I would argue that the film makes it clear that it’s going against the people involved in the system, the ones who were guilty of covering up the crimes. It brings into question the nature of faith and what people actually have faith in. Is it the message or is it the people who are delivering the message?

I found the film to be engaging and was actually surprised when it was over as it didn’t feel like much time had passed at all. There are scenes that simply consist of the reporters searching through books or running through the city to get to a source yet somehow there’s an urgency and emotional weight given to it that actually makes these scenes crucial. The survivors are given voice through a few characters, leading to some very poignant exchanges as they share their experiences. There is also a card at the end that shows where evidence of abuse have been found. The amount of places is staggering and it’s almost impossible to comprehend that such treatment could be so widespread and so ignored for so long.

Spotlight is an excellent film that I feel presents the facts of the story and lets them speak for itself. But I would also recommend that people watch a documentary on Netflix called Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, which also follows a similar trend of abuse, and gives more information about the worldwide impact of the truth and how it went up all the way to the highest echelons of the church.

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