2016 / Director. Tom McCarthy.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
In today's world of 24 hour news cycles, gotcha headlines and internet bloggers it's easy to forget what legitimate journalism is and how important it can be. Because once upon a time before gossip took precedence and the internet destroyed the printed press, newspapers were a fundamental carrier of information, and in most cases the major players were credible and respected. SPOTLIGHT is a film that reminds us of this and tells the true story of a major cover up and scandal that continues to this day.
In 2002 the Boston Globe newspaper ran a series of feature articles exposing the extend of child-sex abuse within the Catholic Church, and at the time the reports focused on the Boston area. Starting as an exposé to reveal the identity of six offending priests, the investigation quickly exploded into a widespread revelation of a systematic coverup, which lead right to the highest ranks of the church and involved at least eighty-seven priests and hundreds of victims within the Boston area alone.
SPOTLIGHT chronicles the investigation by the Boston Globe's renowned Spotlight team. They being a group of four reporters charged with covering larger stories that require extensive research, investigation and often take years to publish. This is a powerful film with an exceptional calibre of performances. Michael Keaton leads the ensemble as the senior investigator, and the role sees him retracing familiar ground from his 1994 role in THE PAPER. With BIRDMAN and its accolades behind him Keaton finds himself well and truly back in the game and SPOTLIGHT solidifies his well deserved comeback to the A-List. The rest of the cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup and Liev Schreiber. All give powerful turns in what could be described as a modern day ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.
Director Tom McCarthy is rapidly earning himself a respectable position on the mantle of Hollywood. Having been an actor for many years his face will be familiar to many of you, and with directorial efforts including THE STATION AGENT, THE VISITOR, WIN-WIN and the underrated Adam Sandler flick THE COBBLER, he is proving to be a versatile and important filmmaker. He addresses the subject material of SPOTLIGHT with sensitivity and intelligence and for the most part keeps his focus on the profession of journalism, with condemnation of the church being secondary to a story that is essentially about journalistic integrity.
With most of the story taking place in an office environment it's not exactly the most extravagant or beautiful-looking film, but with a rock-solid script combined with impressive performances and McCarthy's skilful direction, SPOTLIGHT is deserving of the accolades that it's been receiving. Strap yourself in for a captivating and provoking drama that serves as a strong companion piece to the equally compelling documentary SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD.