Spotlight: A Review
Based on a true story, Spotlight is an exceptional film with an outstanding cast who uncover a haunting scandal that is truly shocking to see laid out.
The film follows a team of investigate reporters, named Spotlight, at the Boston Globe, as they uncover a huge scandal of child molestation and a cover-up in the local Catholic Archdiocese. The effect of which is still on-going throughout the world, today.
Penned by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) and his writing partner, Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate, The West Wing), who, for the most part, do a phenomenal job of keeping the script highly functional. Singer’s West Wing writing experience and McCarthy’s on-screen turn in The Wire, where he coincidentally played journalist, Scott Templeton, clearly shows through.
In some ways, it is extremely easy to imagine Spotlight having been made into a television mini-series, but no doubt the excellent pacing of the film would have suffered significantly.
One of the key strengths of Spotlight is its magnificent cast. Michael Keaton gives a solid performance as team leader, Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James turning in equally stellar performances as the other Spotlight investigators.
Particular excellent moments among these actors include Ruffalo’s office outburst of frustration at the beginning of the last act, a speech that could easily be dubbed Oscar bait but is powerful all the same. Also, McAdams’ interaction with her grandmother in a running sub-plot concerning how revelations such as child molestation affected those of long-term faith.
McCarthy’s exploration of the years of covered-up abuse also delves fully into the victims’ point of view and this truly provides some of the film’s most emotional and hard-hitting moments. Neal Huff as a survivor, Paul Saviano is especially notable, portraying the frustration at having been ignored by those in power and the clear mental effect of the abuse endured perfectly.
Spotlight is certainly a worthwhile watch, but it does not quite hold up on cinematic appeal. The cinematography of the film is basis and like its script, solely functional.
The film also falls down in a couple of areas. At times the viewer can feel as though they are being spoon-fed what may have been more powerful and gripping if shown visually. For instance, at one point a character draws attention to a church being situated directly next to a playground where a lingering shot of this would have sufficed, and resonated with the audience more.
Spotlight‘s mistake is where it deviates from its simple fact presentation. Reference is made to Ruffalo’s character of Mike Rezendes having marital problems, a sub-plot that is only referenced once more in the film and feels like an unnecessary addition.
Minor criticisms aside, when Spotlight does its job, it does it extremely well and leaves its audience is shock, confronting them with the awful truths they already knew.