Spotlight tells the true story of four journalists from the Boston Globe who in 2002 uncovered a huge scandal of child molestation within the Catholic Church in Boston. Priests who had been caught grooming and molesting children were placed on ‘sick leave’ by the Church before being relocated to a new parish, where they continued to work consequence-free.
The story is shocking. The scenes in which the now adult victims of the priests recount what happened to them are absolutely heart breaking, yet the film never feels emotionally manipulative or exploitative. The victims are given a quiet dignity, and in fact the whole film ripples with quiet respect for those who suffered and the journalists who worked to bring their story to the public.
The film is a slow-burner full of lengthy conversations: it’s definitely a film in which the viewer needs to actively pay attention. But it’s worth it: the dialogue isn’t snappy or full of witty exchanges, but it feels real and is all the better for it.
What is so great about the film is how normal it all feels. There’s some serious star-power in the film: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams to name but a few, yet this film never feels too Hollywood. The actors don’t look too beautiful, the wardrobe is refreshingly ordinary (McAdams isn’t dressed to the nines and instead looks like a normal, comfortable human being). Nothing detracts from the story that the journalists are chasing – the film focuses on the work they are doing and the consequences it will have for their community.
Spotlight’s cast is stellar – and this film truly is an ensemble piece. Of the central four characters it’s hard to pick out one actor who really stood out since they all complement one another so well. In the supporting cast, Stanley Tucci is great as the eccentric lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, but the film’s best and most powerful scenes are carried by the actors playing the ‘survivors’: those who managed to navigate life after the abuse without succumbing to addiction, depression or suicide. This is their story, and Spotlight is a very worthy means through which it is told.
Image: Spreepixberlin; Flickr.com