Journalism at its most powerful can expose secrets, open eyes, or create lies and slander against a good person or organization. Spotlight does the former. Whether we like to admit it or not evil lurks in every corner of the world from seemingly the most trusted individuals in a community. Change for good can happen, there are good people and these good people work night and day to get the facts, talk to the source and write to inform the people that there is evil living among us. They look like us, talk like us and dress like us but they are not good – these evil people make the choice to ruin lives for their own gain.
The Spotlight team at the Boston Globe does exactly that. These are dedicated individuals who all share the same goal – reveal the evil that lurks on the community. How can a newspaper go up against the one organization who has been at the forefront for centuries? They write. Spotlight reveals some hard disturbing truths than can be a bitter pill to swallow. The depicted real team of investigative journalists don’t mind getting their hands dirty to uncover a scandal that possibly dates back centuries. You may ask why now? Why expose this scandal at this point in time? The answer is simple, this team isn’t afraid to do the right thing.
Spotlight is based on the poignant but true story of The Boston Globe “Spotlight” team exposing the truth on the abuse of minors by the Catholic Church. At first, it could possibly be just a “couple of bad apples”, but in the end wound up being more massive than anyone anticipated. This is a close to the chest type of story – every little detail must be thoroughly fact checked otherwise the credibility is in jeopardy. It’s journalism at its finest and what director Tom McCarthy does best is telling this story in a way that feels horrifying than an actual horror genre film.
Spotlight also does what most films don’t do that are based on true events – staying true to its source material. When Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) becomes the Boston Globe’s new editor, his first move is to get the Spotlight team on the case of priest John Geoghan. Spotlight editor Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) informs his team to proceed with caution when persuading lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) to talk who claimed the Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou) knew of the charges and covered them up. The rest of the Spotlight team including Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Stephen Kurkjian (Gene Amoroso) take on the responsibility to bring justice to those who deserve it.
Spotlight is one of those rare films that seems to get everything right. The performances are spectacular from top to bottom. Michael Keaton acts as a man of conviction who may be too afraid of what his team uncover from his alma mater. Mark Ruffalo gives a captivating performance with his body language, his mannerisms, and his cadence in the way he speaks. Him and Tucci bring the best out of each other when it’s just the two of them talking to each other. The screenplay is to thank for these outstanding performances. The screenplay – written by McCarthy and Josh Singer delivers highly intelligent and fast paced dialogue.
“You guys gotta understand. This is big. This is not just Boston. It’s the whole country. It’s the whole world. And it goes right up to the Vatican.”
There is a reason Spotlight won best picture at the Academy Awards in 2016. It’s perfect in every manner of the word. This shocking premise is captured in a way that should have viewers on the end of their seat wanting more on this story. It peels back the layers of a scandal no one could stomach. It’s a hard truth that these types of things happen in the world and it’s the job of the journalists to tell the stories of those who aren’t brave enough to tell it themselves. The pacing is done well with how the screenplay lays out each step the reporters have to take to produce the article in question.
The “Spotlight” team can spend months to even years working diligently on a single story of corruption. Each reporter needs to have that will power each day to continuously repeat the same motions. Rachel McAdams has a an incredibly gripping scene where she attempts to persuade an abuser priest to open up – which he does willingly until a third party realizes what he’s doing. Boston is a Catholic city; majority have grown up Catholic and most who work at the Globe practice the religion. Marty Baron who isn’t Catholic is the only man who shakes things up amid protests among his staff members. Schreiber gives a nonchalant performance. He doesn’t seem bothered by the whirlwind he is putting his paper in but is willing to cause a seismic shift in how the world views the church.
“We need to focus on the institution, not the individual priests. Practice and policy; show me the church manipulated the system so that these guys wouldn’t have to face charges, show me they put those same priests back into parishes time and time again. Show me this was systemic, that it came from the top, down.”
Overall Spotlight is a once in awhile film that doesn’t have a visible antagonist. Yes, the churches are clear and present throughout, but this film strives on extraordinary performances, a well-rounded script and brilliant storytelling. It shines a light on the darkest of corners. It’s well deserving of all the awards its won. But the story doesn’t stop there. Survivors cannot hold back – they shouldn’t. Just like the Larry Nassar scandal. The more survivors that come forward the better off the world is without these predators and the more children don’t get preyed upon. These are stories that need to be told, they need to be shared for those to feel comfortable in saying me too. Spotlight is a film that will age well and needs to be seen by all. The list of all the priests at the end is eye opening and infuriating. If I were to rate Spotlight, I’d rate it a 5 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Spotlight and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Spotlight is written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer and directed by Tom McCarthy is Rated R and has an 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Spotlight was released on July 14th, 2017 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 9 minutes. Spotlight can be bought by online retailers such as Itunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu and can be streamed on Netflix.
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