Superbly acted, tightly controlled and thoroughly engrossing, Spotlight is a fantastic film, among the year’s best, and it manages to “tell a horrific story in a decent way”.
Spotlight follows the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one”
Spotlight is a riveting character piece driven by an excellent cast. Michael Keaton is in peak form as Walter “Robby” Robinson, editor in charge of “Spotlight”. He’s supported by understated but exceptional performances from Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup and Brian d’Arcy James. Stanley Tucci turns in an impressive performance as harried lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, as well as Mark Ruffalo who is extraordinary as the emotionally invested reporter Michael Rezendes.
Every member of this impeccable cast has a worthy role, bringing importance to each dialogue-heavy scene. The film maintains a crisp and controlled pace that keeps the audience captivated.
While Spotlight is about priests in the Catholic Church and the heinous acts they committed against young children – none of the abuse is shown on-screen – rather, we hear of the horrid encounters from the devastated, now-adult survivors.
Given the subject matter, it would be hard to begrudge Spotlight for being a horrifyingly depressing affair, but writer/director Tom McCarthy and his co-writer, Josh Singer, make the important choice to focus directly on the ethics and challenges of breaking a major news story that will irrevocably change a community, rather than the sordid details of the abuse itself.
As with most films “based on a true story”, we, the audience may know of the conclusion to the story, but Spotlight remains rife with tension. It’s a thoroughly gripping detective story. At times, it’s difficult to watch, not only because of the horrifying details of the investigation itself, but because of how recent the “Spotlight” story is, and how long these abuses were deliberately ignored.
Spotlight thoroughly engrosses its audience in a real, emotional story, and leaves you thinking about the outcomes for days after.
Spotlight, like any good story, is only as good as the sum of its parts – it wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does without its incredible script, meticulous direction and remarkable performances. Spotlight is sure to be an awards season contender.