The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
Anyone who has been watching Netflix’s documentary series Making A Murderer will attest just how angry the events of the show have made its viewers feel. Not in terms of its quality, but for almost everything single moment that just baffles the senses as you wonder just how on earth such anger-inducing “events” were allowed to happen band continue to happen in the face of many shouts to the contrary. Todd McCarthy’s Spotlight is the 2015/6 cinematic equivalent of the aforementioned TV show, but perhaps it’s much more infuriating due to the countless cover-ups and attempts to stop such appalling acts from ever coming to light. Many knew what was unfolding and said or did nothing, and this Oscar hopeful film shines a very big light on some very big secrets.
2001, The Boston Globe. In the midst of other stories and the changing of hands at the very top with new editor Marty Baron (Schreiber) coming in to shake things up as non-Catholic outsider, the majority of the Globe’s investigative endeavours are undertaken by its Spotlight team, led by “Robby” Robertson (Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). Information soon reaches them about the alleged abuse of children by the Catholic Church, for which Boston has a close-knit association, so close in fact that it’s embedded and engrained in each and every person. A little digging and the small story balloons to such an astounding level, with evidence and facts soon presenting themselves that only exasperate the level of wrongdoings that if exposed would shake the foundations of the whole of Boston.
But despite such appalling acts being brought to the fore, Spotlight showcases the endless appreciation of journalism, both investigative and informative. Set at a time when the Internet was still in its relative infancy in terms of investigations and gathering evidence, our plucky group of reporters dealt in paper and people: no easy Google search or website data to really help them, they relied on instinct, chasing leads and facts whilst burying themselves in thick library books. But just like All The President’s Men, which many have compared the Spotlight given its narrative, there is something utterly fascinating and indeed thrilling about watching these kinds of slow-deteriorating methods of journalism on-screen.
McCarthy’s deft, delicate hand allows you to follow our reporters as they race around cities in cabs, interview locals and go toe-to-toe with both their superiors and those who may have covered up such horrid acts, never anything less that totally gripping and riveting. There’s nothing clever nor showy about what McCarthy, co-writer Josh Singer and his team are trying here, other than to let the story unfold in front of you, discovering the facts as the team finds them in the simplest but ultimately most compelling way possible.
Having such an eclectic and stellar cast helps elevate the film even higher than it might otherwise have risen too: Ruffalo, still one the most hard-working but still underrated actors working today, is again superb as the thoughtful Rezendes; Michael Keaton’s wonderful renaissance continues with another award-worthy performance, while Rachel McAdams yet again proves her worth as one of shining female lights with the film’s most heartbreaking performance. James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and the ever-superb Stanley Tucci round out the magnificent company with four other brilliant turns.
While the subject matter and subsequent discovering of what went unnoticed in Boston for decades, Spotlight is a riveting, thoughtful and superb piece of cinema that deserves everyone’s attention. Made with care and thoughtfulness by Tom McCarthy and performed magnificently across its board of wonderful talent, Spotlight is one of the year’s most poignant, passionate and important pieces of work.