Review: Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight

Rating

Director

Tom McCarthy

Screenplay

Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy

Length

128 min.

Starring

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl, Billy Crudup

MPAA Rating

R for some language including sexual references

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Review

Although the era of investigative journalism has been supplanted by the 24-hour news cycle, the intrepid reporters of America’s stalwart newspapers are given a fitting Spotlight in this engrossing and surprising look at the revelation of one of the biggest scandals so far in the 21st Century.

Director Tom McCarthy co-wrote this screenplay with Josh Singer, a glimpse into the challenges surrounding the Boston Globe’s investigation into and revelation of the rampant child sexual abuse that had been going on in the Roman Catholic Church for decades. The film opens in 1976 when an assistant district attorney orders the police to release a Catholic priest under arrest for the sexual assault of a minor. A cover-up ensues that ultimately leads to the main action of this early 2000s-set look into the newsroom of the Boston Globe as they begin to uncover what could be a major scandal that would rock the foundation of the heavily Catholic city.

Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, and Billy Crudup in an incredibly strong ensemble, the film carefully takes the audience through the myriad revelations that occurred behind the scenes at the Boston Globe as the staff struggles to make a case that stands up to scrutiny in a town so entrenched with the Roman Catholic Church that even the whiff of impropriety could be met with ostracization for some and turmoil for others.

Ruffalo plays Michael Rezendes, the figure in the film who is most zealous about wanting to deliver this news to the public while Keaton’s Robby Robinson wants to keep things close to their vests until they find something beyond reproach before bringing the allegations to light. The pair dance around the delicate subject matter while McAdams, Schreiber, and d’Arcy James do their part to surreptitiously collect evidence. Slattery runs the Spotlight team as it navigates incredibly difficult waters. While the entire cast is superb, Ruffalo is the highlight of the film with Keaton a strong second.

McCarthy’s fascinating script showcases what real journalists have done for the better part of a century to discover the truth and hold the powerful accountable. That the events in the film took forty years to come to light shows how dangerous and harmful hiding the truth can be as child after child is brought into contact with priests who have a history of sexual abuse.

In an American society that is becoming less obsessed with investigation and more with spin, it’s a vital film for our times. Spotlight is a well made, engaging film that may burn slow, but burns hot and strong as the film rallies to a stunning conclusion.

Review Written

August 10, 2020

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