Tom McCarthy / Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery / Drama / 2016 / 15 / 129mins
If you’ve been living in a hole for the past decade you may have failed to realise that the Catholic Church has been held accountable for serious allegations of child abuse.
Whilst it comes as no shock to those who rationalise celibate, psychosomatically stunted priests in close contact with vulnerable kids will abuse their power, it still proved to be one of the biggest journalist coups of recent times.
Spotlight follows the story of the journalists of the ‘Spotlight’ team at the Boston Globe in… Boston… who wrapped up said coup. We may give biopics a lot of shit but when the content is explicit and damning it’s entirely relevant to widen public interest on the matter. Quick off the mark, fast paced and never off plot for a second, every scene is relevant and contributes to the core arc of the film like you’re piecing together your very own investigation on a wall; you know, the ones in the movies, drawing lines together with string, connecting the dots.
Rather conveniently, Spotlight rides the crest of a cultural wave: this investigative journalism malarkey, as per the podcast Serial and Netflix’s Making a Murderer in particular. It’s perfect timing by the studio. Capturing journalism on film is rather straightforward fun. The plot works at the audience’s pace – someone on the Spotlight team learns something, so do you, obviously, but so do the rest of the team. Everyone is constantly up to date. This creates an informal integration – we become immersed the further the linearity continues. It works so well, especially for a topic such as investigative journalism.
However, what makes this film work so spectacularly well is the fact everyone acts so brilliantly. It’s flawless, from the stars to the extras. Ruffalo got the nom as Mike Rezendes but he seems to be just a random pick from what was ultimately a cast that operated as a unit – their coherence leads to everyone giving their all. Liev Schreiber in my opinion was outstanding. He’s been so mediocre before (look no further than Defiance or Salt) but has suddenly, out of nowhere, given a dramatic performance with integrity. Keaton and Slattery were great too. It raises relevant questions about the Academy: a Best Cast award should be a thing, given the growing number of films with outstanding casts.
There are some minor criticisms: we’re told so much about this case including many off-shoots and sub-plots that never come to fruition. It’s frustrating but I understand why they’re not included – it weighs the film down, it becomes too much to focus on – you have to remember it’s not a documentary. Regardless, I’d recommend Spotlight to anyone.
This film is out-fuckin’-standing and fully deserves it’s acclaim.
Film as a Film – 4 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 4
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By Source. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Open Road Films, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. Fair use source via Wikipedia.