Movie Review – ‘Spotlight’

Written by J.T. Johnson


DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Masanobu Takayanagi
WRITERS: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
MUSIC: Howard Shore

In today’s world, it’s not out of the ordinary to sometimes hear people make references to the Catholic Church’s past with sexual abuse from priests. “Spotlight” is a documentary drama that focuses on the Spotlight team of investigative reporters at “The Boston Globe” that uncovered the systemic coverup done by the Church in Boston to simply relocate priests that had engaged in several counts of pedophilia.

Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast as Robby Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight team. The team consists of Robby along with Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy). The new editor of the “Globe”, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) is the one who sees that there is a potential story about priests in the Church and assigns them their new story.

Soon, the reporters find that there is indeed something there and set about getting all of the pieces in order to get the story out to the public. What they soon discover to their dismay is that there is a system in place to protect pedophile priests by the Church itself. If a priests is caught, then the Church settles any court cases quietly in order to avoid embarrassment.

What is even more disheartening for the team is the fact that this has been going on for decades in Boston. However, the city is pretty much under the influence of the Church and this makes the city’s citizens ignore the issue or take part in the coverup. For example, the team has to deal with a court system that generally sides with the Church and how they had to maneuver their way through the legal system to get the proof they needed to expose the scandal.

“Spotlight” is a riveting yet straightforward film and I now understand why it won the Academy Award for Best Picture earlier this year. The movie moves along at a brisk pace and I never felt the two hour runtime once it was over. Another element that kept me captivated were the performances.

Keaton is amazing as Robby Robinson, the no bullshit editor, and Ruffalo excels as reporter Michael Rezendes. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this may be some of Ruffalo’s best work in an already impressive career. McAdams gives a quietly strong performance as Sacha, a woman who eventually can’t even go to church with her grandma because of the horrors she is uncovering in the Church.

I have seen several great documentary dramas such as “Schindler’s List”, “Apollo 13”, “Argo”, and “Good Night, and Good Luck”. These films do their best job when they are just presenting the facts as best they can. The only time documentary dramas lose me is when they add too many theatrical moments to pump up the drama, such was the case for “The Social Network”.

“Spotlight” does not fall into that trap thankfully. The roles are fantastic and the story is an interesting one that the world needs to know about. The real Spotlight team won the Pulitzer Prize for their reports on this scandal and the movie won Best Picture. Both awards are well deserved and if you haven’t seen “Spotlight” yet, I recommend it highly.

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