Directed by Tom McCarthy.
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci.
A true story documenting the events that led to The Boston Globe uncovering a history of child molestation covered up by the local Catholic Archdiocese.
Featured in the 2013 Blacklist as one of the “most liked” unmade scripts of that year, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Josh Singer’s script finally had the chance to debut its true potential with the inclusion of an all-star cast. Tom McCarthy’s Oscar nominated film Spotlight is a classically well-made film in the sense that it demonstrates how a strongly supported narrative that drives the interest of the audience to the credits, works in unison with captivating performances that bring the real traits and mannerisms of the people they aim to portray to life, without relying on special effects, clichés or overly dramatic scenes.
The dialogue and performances in Spotlight capture the continuous motion of what it is like to work in press, running the audience through every step of the processes involved in forming an investigatory news article. It represents one of the best films centred round ‘real journalism’ since All the Presidents Men. The pace is consistently constant lead by the fast spoken dialogue delivered by Ruffalo and Keaton. The dedication of their counterpart characters reflect the need and importance of their work which parallels against how the church is also seen by the local community; Spotlight carefully examines how the scandal of child molestation could be overlooked by the community of Boston by exploring how people believed the church to be so vitally important, communally, spiritually and ritually that it overruled their own moral judgements. One of the most memorable lines from the film is delivered by Stanley Tucci’s character Mitchell Garabedian to Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo) where he argues that people of the community allowed this behaviour to continue, stating “it takes a village to raise a child it also takes a village to abuse one.”
McCarthy repeats continuously how well-known these violations were, investigating all reasoning behind the lack of repercussions. The story explores the views of the survivors, the priests, the lawyers involved and the officials examining the personal rationalisations to why some thought it was acceptable, forgivable or just frowned upon. The film illuminates how engrained the Catholic Church was and might still be to communities and politics around the world. Catholic iconography, symbolism and architecture are displayed in most shots to remind the audience of the Churches presence and influence. More than a few times this is acknowledged by the characters themselves serving as a constant reminder to the pain they’d once before been subjected too.
Spotlight should also be commended for the way it was shot and subsequently cut. It quite flawlessly dances between months and years, over a story that covers four decades. This is so well done that it almost goes unnoticed. You flow with the narrative style dipping in and out of its most intensely drama driven moments. The acting and performances of the cast are what truly make this film so memorable. Ruffalo and Keaton especially do a wonderful job to capture the authenticity of their real life counterparts, mirroring their mannerisms and accents almost perfectly. Mark Ruffalo almost takes on a completely other persona, twitching a ticking with a fervent intensity to his performance. The acting of the cast impeccably represented what it took to get to the bottom of this kind of story and all the restrain, commitment and time it demanded of them.
McCarthy’s film humanises the lives of the journalists involved in uncovering the scandal by exploring how their personal lives were deeply affected by their work despite the gravitas of it. By drawing a comparison between the importance of the investigatory journalists and the importance of the Catholic Church, a decision had to made to portray the lives of those at the Boston Globe honesty and humanly. However this isn’t how it plays off. The journalists at the Boston Globe are represented as people dedicated to the story itself, not withholding any agenda either personal or business related. Their actions are characterised as altruistic, selfless and heroic despite it being their job.
Overall McCarthy’s film is an excellent achievement in narrative driven film that generates both momentum and excitement. Despite being more formulaic than is strictly necessary, Spotlight still stands uniquely as a film due to the impeccable performance of the actors themselves.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★