January 2, 2016


Tom McCarthy, 2015
There are some films that have a sole purpose. A sole purpose to highlight a particular moment in time, a notable event of sequence of events. Spotlight is one of these films, fulfilling a duty to highlight the Catholic sex abuse scandal of the (year) that was uncovered by the Boston Globe. When new editor Marty Baron is hired from Miami, he immediately starts to put pressure on the staff to maintain core readership. He urges the Spotlight investigative team to focus on some accusations of local priests abusing boys. When they start to realize that there is some validity to the accusations, he urges them to follow it higher and higher - not really concerned about which powerful figures he angers along the way. The fact that this is going on in the city of Boston adds even more weight to the scandal, as half of the city is Irish Catholic and holds their Priest's in very high regard. 

The Spotlight team itself is a showcase of solid acting by Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Brian D'Arcy James. There is such balanced chemistry between them all, it's just alluring to watch them all just work their craft. Perfect casting decisions in that regard. Stanley Tucci is also remarkable as attorney Mitchell Garabedian. They are all laser focused on the task. Some of them working longer hours than others. Some of them having families to go home to, some of them choosing career over family. But they are all thorough. 

They manage to maintain their journalistic professionalism while also taking the abuse claims to heart. When Matt Carroll's (D'Arcy James) character is scouring through the pages of the Catholic directory and discovers that one of the "treatment centers" is around the corner from his house, he realizes how close to home this problem really is. It is not wrong to draw comparisons of Spotlight to All the President's Men. They are both serious films, impactful in nature, covering scandals that everyone was already knowledgeable of. Both films feel academic to a certain extent. They both remind us of the importance of whistle-blowers in American culture. But sometimes its a film's duty to simply highlight a negative event in history. This way it will have it's place in cinematic history. And as the Spotlight staff realizes, some things should not go unnoticed. No matter how big the cages are that are about to get rattled. Spotlight isn't a movie filled with stylistic flair. It's a movie, completely serious in tone, with a job to do. And just like the Spotlight team, it maintains that steady pace until the job is done. 

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