Film Review: Spotlight

Director: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo; Rachel McAdams; Michael Keaton




By Cassay Baillie

If you haven’t already, you need to experience the brilliance of Spotlight. It’s a must for any great film lover. The biographical account of the Boston Globe’s 2002 ex-pose on the Catholic Church’s involvement and cover up of child sex abuse, over a span of three to four decades proves to be, at times, an uncomfortable watch with emotional interview scenes with the victims themselves to scenes where the journalists show their own intense frustration with their work. Comfort aside, this film will have a lasting impact on you, it’s the emotional thriller Tom McCarthy will be remembered for.

Primarily the theme of the movie is justice, with past reports that were not followed up on and quiet hush-hush dealings between the church and lawyers meant that priests guilty of molesting young children were let off with it and re-established in another church. After the arrival of the allusive new editor to the Boston Globe, played by Liev Schreiber, the Spotlight team are given the job of following up on a recent court case with the church. After a year of gruelling research they uncover evidence to prove that up to ninety priests were guilty of child molestation and simply circulated to a different church in Boston by the cardinal.

On a few occasions I noticed people leaving the cinema, all during the scenes where the molestation victims spoke about their past ordeals. It should be made clear that no gentle or muted language was used during these scenes, with the victims describing their ordeals with brutal honesty and blatant word-choice. After listening to the emotional breakdowns of the victims as they described the first time a priest began to groom them to the first time they were raped, I myself felt very uncomfortable, as you would, but instead of wanting to leave it kept me glued to my seat, fixated on the outcome of this tragic story. I felt very much inside the movie, as is the beauty of cinema, seeing the close-knit community of Boston governed by Catholicism and afraid to speak out against it and the struggles of trying to break such silence by the means of investigative journalism.

I have to say, the casting for Spotlight is flawless. Stars such as Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, and Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton who must both be commended for giving, in my opinion, an exceptionally strong performances as two of the main journalists in the film; Ruffalo gives a memorable emotional scene that leaves the hairs on your arms standing. We see, through stunning performances, how the personal lives of the journalists were affected due to working on a story this powerful, whether it be dwindling family life or having devout religious members in their own family.

After seeing Spotlight highlight the importance of investigative journalism, I truly left the cinema thinking of a career path change. The satisfaction felt from the mere publishing of the article at the end of the movie was enough to send me home happy. Tom McCarthy did not disappoint, and after this masterpiece is definitely a director to watch in the following years.