Review: Spotlight

Oscar season this year is sure giving us a lot of intensity isn’t it? A nominee studded cast stars in this grueling true story.

Spotlight is an investigative team of journalists working for The Boston Globe. In 2001 they were assigned a special task by their new editor, a task of uncovering the secretive world of child abuse and molestation within the┬álocal┬áCatholic Archdiocese… an investigation that could have global ramifications.

Michael Keaton heads a strong cast including Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber and Rachel McAdams (all of them nominees for either Golden Globes or Academy Awards) Keaton as the head editor of Spotlight, Schreiber as the Globe’s new editor. Since last year’s Birdman, it is great to see Keaton get some new serious drama roles, and I’ve not seen Schreiber in such a role. However Ruffalo, much like in last year’s Foxcatcher, steals a lot of the show as one of Spotlight’s investigative reporters; delivering one awesome and emotion-filled speech in the film’s third act.
Ruffalo always seems to provide a subtle, human performance, giving himself character traits to go alongside the script. He easily provides much of the heart and (minimal) humour that the film has.

The film itself is very involved with the intricacies of law, making for quite complex moments of dialogue, but when the dust settles it is clear what is happening. It is an intense, unsettling affair as things escalate. The film demonizes those in the Church and those lawyers who had turned a blind eye to what was happening, and while the people in support of the victims are shown as fraught and crazy initially, the escalating truths make for a jaw-dropping and stomach-twisting reality…

The focus on the victims, with Rachel McAdams’ Sasha interviewing many of them, truly hammers home the horror and depravity of the situation. For being strictly a drama, Spotlight is unpleasant to experience. Much like The Big Short, Spotlight tells hard truths about humanity and how utterly corrupt and blind people and society really can be. The worse of it lurks in the knowledge that victims were too traumatised or vulnerable to speak out against their attackers.

Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about the film. It is certainly professionally acted and awesomely well paced; it makes you feel all the correct emotions and you want to see these victims receive justice. But it isn’t a film you enjoy watching, even Revenant (with all of its violent and grim visuals) just looks so gorgeous that you can appreciate it. Spotlight is virtually a biopic in its honesty; hard facts and and hard reality professionally executed.
Not a film I enjoy, but a film I can respect.



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