TL;DR – This is a real life story that needed to be told, of scumbags who hurt children and them covered it up, I just wish it had been done a bit better.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Spotlight is the real life story of the Spotlight team of The Boston Globe. This is a team of investigative journalists who pick their own stories to investigate, sometimes spending years researching their cases. In early 2001 after some prompting, they start looking into the Catholic Church in the Boston area and how they handled sexual abuse cases. Here they discover that it is not just a couple of bad apples and that it is a much bigger problem, one the Church knew about and one they covered up.
This is a difficult film to watch at times, on one hand, you hear heartbreaking stories of abuse and the long term damage it has done to people, but more problematically, you have to watch the sheer extent of the cover up from lawyers, teachers, priests, cardinals, officials, police officers, prominent citizens, PR reps and the list goes on. In many respects, it is the same way people turn a blind eye to organised crime or political corruption, but so much worse, especially when they start to justify it.
Before I move on a do have one issue with Spotlight, and that is in its presentation, for at least the first half of the film it feels like it was a made-for-TV movie that somehow got a theatrical release. From the aspect ratio to the music to the many actors that seem like they are almost doing caricatures of real people, it is really off-putting. This is not helped by the fact that Spotlight is a slow burn and the first part of the movie really feels like it is starting to drag. However, about halfway through the film, things start to work, that might be because we finally start to see some movement towards a resolution, or because they start showing the fallout of this problem or some other reason, but whatever it was, I wish it had come sooner.
The second half of Spotlight is where the film shines, you see the Spotlight team grapple with their own faith, you see the very real problem of how long should they hold off publishing to get the best story when this is actively still happening, and simply trying to get something done when the bureaucracy does not want to hear it. There is one really powerful moment where they go out of their way to suck you in with a moment of nostalgia only to hit you over the head moments later. It is towards the end where Brian d’Arcy James (Matt Carroll) and Rachel McAdams (Sacha Pfeiffer) really show their depth as actors.
This is a heart-wrenching story and one that deserves attention because as the closing credits show, it is something that is not just isolated to Boston.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Tom McCarthy
Written by – Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
Starring – Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber, John Slattery & Stanley Tucci
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Ireland: 18; NZ: M; UK: 15; USA: R