In early 2002, The Boston Globe brought the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church into the national limelight, with their “Spotlight” team’s continuous coverage of child abuse cases. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is based on the journalists’ investigation into the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. The film depicts the unravelling of the shocking cover-ups and the various victims of the abuse.
Despite the lack of urgent drama and any real character development, Spotlight manages to be a tense and gripping film. If you are seeking action, high-stakes drama, then you may want to look elsewhere, because Spotlight offers something else entirely. Its compelling and engaging nature lies within how the journalist team deal with the situation, and their motivation to succeed with their work.
Their investigation begins when The Boston Globe editor, Marty Baron (Liev Shreiber), discovers a column suggesting that Cardinal Law (Arch Bishop of Boston) was aware of the sexual abuse by Priests of the Catholic Church, and did nothing to stop it. Baron assigns the Spotlight team with the task of investigating the alleged claims that the Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse.
It takes a great bunch of actors to make a film like Spotlight genuinely compelling. Ruffalo, McAdams, Keaton and Brian d’Arcy James portray the journalists at the centre of the investigation, and they are all very convincing. With such a slow-build up and an abundance of conversations that requires you to really pay attention, at times I did find myself a little disinterested. But the stellar cast and their great performances indeed kept me watching.
However, for a film that won Best Picture at the Acadamy Awards, I was expecting a lot more. Whilst watching, I felt the film was missing something to really push it to the next level. The way the film develops and how it manages to make the audience care about the Spotlight team’s work, is impressive, so I do believe the film deserves all its credentials and critical acclaim.
Also, throughout the film there is a very serious and focused tone. Obviously a film that deals with the subject of child sexual abuse, any humour would not be appropriate. I particular liked the way the film did not try to avoid, or simply imply any of the gruesome details of the abuse. It is all very explicit and to the point. The film’s biggest strength is the level of detail and how the characters interact with the various victims, crime reports and other necessities in the investigation.
Evocative and intelligent, Spotlight is the type of film that requires the viewer to be in the right state of mind. It’s very talky, serious, challenging, and certainly not the type of film you watch for entertainment purposes. The main and most important aspect of the film, is how it sheds light on the shocking number of sexual abuse, by Priests that was covered up for decades – and not only has it been a problem in Boston, but in fact all over the world. Unfortunately, it’s something that a lot of people have ignored, so Spotlight terrifically communicates the need to open our eyes.
BOTTOM LINE – Spotlight is an incredibly powerful film, that is definitely worth a watch.
Check out the trailer below!
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writers: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Stars: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Lev Schreiber
Distributor: Entertainment One (UK), Open Road Films (US)
Run Time: 128 min
Let me know what you thought of the film in the comment section!