Tom McCarthy assembles a dream cast for his powerful drama about the journalists who exposed pedophilia in the local Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
"This is Boston," says Stanley Tucci’s seen-it-all victims’ lawyer to a reporter in Spotlight, echoing that famous last line from Chinatown: "Forget it, Jake—it’s Chinatown." But forgetting isn’t an option sometimes. Spotlight calmly and powerfully traces the work of a group of dogged Boston Globe journalists in 2001, who were determined to expose the systematic cover-up of child abuse in the local Catholic Church. It's the story behind the story, and it’s the film equivalent of reading an especially thrilling New Yorker article: ruthlessly detailed, precise and gripping but never brash or overemotional.
Tom McCarthy is an unfussy, low-key director (The Visitor, The Station Agent), and that style suits Spotlight, which is all muted colors, linear storytelling and unobtrusive camerawork. It allows the ensemble cast to shine without showing off: Michael Keaton, fresh from Birdman, makes a second, perhaps even better comeback as Bostonian Robby Robinson who heads up the paper’s investigative team; Liev Schreiber is the paper’s new editor, an outsider and Jewish in a heavily Catholic city; Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are reporters on the front line, knocking on doors and digging out documents. Ruffalo is perhaps the loudest presence: nervy, energetic and prone to the odd outburst in a film otherwise mercifully lacking those moments.
This is All The President’s Men for the ongoing horror of priestly pedophilia. Yet it’s a more subtle, damning film for implicating the media as much as the church, the courts, the legal profession and other Boston institutions in the systematic, wider cultural cover-up it describes. These journalists are good, hard-working and principled, but the film falls short of making them heroes, and crucially doesn’t allow media mechanics to over power the true nightmare of the real-life experiences behind their story. There are just enough testimonies here and encounters with victims to make the human side of the story crystal clear without losing focus on the bigger picture of establishment corruption. It’s that all-too-rare beast: a movie that’s both important and engrossing.
Cast and crew
Average User Rating
4.6 / 5
- 5 star:6
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would definitely recommend seeing it. It’s very easy to see how this won best picture. I was familiar with the coverage of abuse within the Catholic church, but didn’t really know the full story or many details. Not only is this film captivating from beginning to end, it is also very informative and gave me a great deal of knowledge about the situation. The fantastic acting, script, directing and overall production ensures that this incredible story is given the justice it deserves. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours afterwards and I love it when a film has an impact like that. Go see it!
A friend of mine, a fellow journalist, referred to this as a period piece, and I totally agree. A detailed look at a time when newspapers cared about every line of copy, made hard decisions about what to cover, were chasing more than clicks and had the resources to do it. All that—plus the usual things (terrific direction, writing, performances etc)—made this a special experience.
Like "The Big Short," its Oscar best-picture competition, "Spotlight" attempts to expose dark, disturbing and criminal behavior by people who are supposed to be society's moral guardians. The Roman Catholic Church's priest sex abuse scandal erupted in Boston, and the film follows the Boston Globe's investigative journalists as they uncover perpetrators and victims. Fine acting from the entire ensemble, although Mark Ruffalo gets a bit carried away with his character's physical quirks. The ending, however, is too abrupt and leaves the audience without the catharsis that such an emotionally charged movie needs. Of course, the scandal and the abuse continues, so maybe the creators intended to leave us hanging and angry.
Spotlight is about a group of of investigative reporters (Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Brian d'Arcy James) at the Boston Globe working to uncover the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese back in 2002.
At first, the topic of this film may seem too dry or dark to really warrant a watch; but due to the superb acting throughout and engaging directing, Spotlight is able to really shine through despite its heavy theme. A number of memorable moments (Ruffalo and McAdams in particular) weaved through a fast-paced, gripping tale that climaxes with a satisfactory ending truly makes this film a must-watch!
Spotlight is a tremendous piece of film making that will make you go completely speechless with some of the scenes in this movie. Michael Keaton, Brian d'Arcy James and Rachel McAdams all gave superb performances, as it was both convincing and realistic with their reactions. But Mark Ruffalo was absolutely phenomenal in this movie and he stole the show.
The director of this movie (Tom McCarthy) did the Adam Sandler film "The Cobbler". Now, let that sink in for a minute.
This understated film is a gripper. Most of the acting is in closeup and moves and builds with no gimmicks or tidying up of Boston. You read about it and it was a shocking story but this packs a punch in the intimacy. The very nice, well respected people who look after each other in the system that is the city, but could be a village or club or a religion. The small team of journalists who become caught up and feel threatened by slammed doors. The victims who have not only been sexually abused but also but also spiritually abused....so what's to live for.
You know the outcome but the tension is always there in this finely made film.
This film is about the abuse of power and how for so long it was covered up. And if it all sounds a bit ernest and well intentioned it is an unmissable film for everyone.
If you liked All The Presidents Men you will like this movie too. Perhaps it lacks the starlike cast, but the story is strong and compelling. It shows once again the importance of investigative and independent journalism to reveal abuse of power that is a persistent danger with regard to a free and democratic society.