The past will always catch up with you especially if you have something to hide.In Tom McCarthy‘s Award-winning Spotlight it expose one big dirty secret of Child abuse, the true story cover-up of Boston’s Catholic Church. By the end of the movie what unfolds is systematic abuse that’s more spread than first thought.
The past few decades especially here in the UK journalism’s relationship with the general public has been a frail one. From the recent phone hacking scandal which rightly cost a newspaper, it’s existence to the disgusting attack and treatment by a current running newspaper of Liverpool fans with Hillsborough tragedy they are a dire need of trust. Spotlight may just be one step in the right direction that may just help the cause that good old fashion investigative journalism still has a purpose in the 21st Century. However, there also seems to be a wall of silence by many which is disheartening when it seems to sweep under the carpet by those who can influence the justice for all.
Spotlight takes us back to 2002 and to the Boston Globe newspaper, here we meet a bunch of tenacious investigative journalists who work under the banner of ‘Spotlight’. They don’t sit amongst the reporters who provide the daily content in the main office but downstairs among the archives in a small stingy office surrounded by files high as skyscrapers. Their fellow journalists upstairs don’t always seem to take the team seriously but now they are under the wing of a new editor Marty Baron (leiv Schreiber) brought into to challenge the Globe’s falling circulation and revenue. Marty is not a Bostonian an outsider’ many believed would play it safe but how wrong they were.
After he met The Spotlight team Marty encourages them to re-open an old case that delves into allegations of abuse within the city’s Catholic Church. It seems being covered up for decades. Ignorance from those in power who could have done something to stop the atrocities but didn’t. Right away the team gets to work the face political, powerful resistance (heartless lawyer played by Billy Crudup) from the far reaches of the church and government. Combining there brains the team put together an explosive expose that reveals the truth was a lot darker they ever imagined.
When this was first been released in the cinemas I was a little apprehensive to see this not because I’m a lapsed Catholic, but how wrong was I to think this. Spotlight echoes the quintessential journalistic film All The Presidents Men, captivating the hustle, the bustle even the frustration of a newspaper. To take things further this film even has a real connection with John Slattery‘s character Ben Bradlee Jnr father Ben Bradlee Snr was the editor of The Washington Post the newspaper All The Presidents Men was set at (Jason Robards playing Senior). When you look closer at the newspaper they still run things like they did in the old days: pen/pencil, paper, filing, old-fashioned investigation looking through books, articles. No Google search no trendy phone apps, if anything what the team also do is highlight their own failings.
You don’t really feel the true veil of influence the church had over everyone until the ‘outsiders’ entered the battle. Spotlight‘s new editor Marty might be from Tampa Florida but he’s also Jewish which means nothing. However before he can perform his job he has to meet the city’s Catholic Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) who presents him with a Catechism. Essentially telling him the church will be watching him and how they want him to work, but Marty doesn’t care as he has his own faith and morals.
The film does delve into the repercussions amongst the journalists. From Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachael McAdams) who originally wrote the first report she becomes worried about her grandmother’s reaction because she’s a devout Catholic. Matt Carroll(Brian d’Arcy James)is disgusted, outraged that a group of paedophile priests live only a few doors away from him next to families. Even Walter Robinson aka Marty (Michael Keaton) is playing golf, socializing with the accused becomes complacent in his ways.
Don’t expect flashbacks to glimpse into the dark void of the victims. The power of the unforgivable crimes redemption comes through the victim’s statements. Spotlight’s delivery is subdued, slow-burning, it’s a complex film that never sensationalizes anything nor feels as if the journalists are after 15 minutes of fame. The focus is on the victims and the crime not the journalists, a voice to the suffering.
Spotlight is brilliantly acted with Mark Ruffalo the star turn. His character Mike Rezendes is the drive of the team, he’s determined for justice, impartial and he truly listens when they victims open up. He gains the trust of another outside Mitchell Garabedian (played by the ever reliable Stanley Tucci) the lawyer of the victims. Journalism is not a glamorous job but one of impartiality and equity. Spotlight is an intelligent, emotionally fuelled tense film that shows journalists don’t always have to be the villains.
Drama, History | USA, 2015 | 15 | Entertainment One | 23rd May 2016 (UK) | Dir.Tom McCarthy | Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci,Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James | Buy: [DVD]