Spotlight is the fascinating, emotionally-charged retelling of tenacious journalistic efforts to expose systematic child abuse in Boston’s Catholic Church. Set principally in the early 2000s, the film focuses on the titular four-person investigative reporting team at the Boston Globe newspaper who unwittingly uncovered offences which spiralled into a shockingly wide-reaching conspiracy of silence.
The heavyweight cast is headed by Michael Keaton (fresh off the Oscar-winning Birdman and here reminding us of how good he was in 1994’s lighter-hearted insight into journalism, The Paper) and includes typically superb acting by Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci. Playing against his usual laidback type, Mark Ruffalo is uptight and intense alongside Rachel McAdams’ bright, persistent reporter whose investigations lead to unexpected revelations. Every character is serious, committed and articulate, and completely draw us into this enthralling eye-opener.
Writer-director Tom McCarthy has a lengthy acting career which makes him an unusually familiar face for someone now being lauded behind the camera. We have him to thank for intelligent movies The Visitor and The Station Agent, and now the Oscars are rightly knocking at his door, it gives one faith that the industry hasn’t yet died a death from regurgitated remakes, comic book adaptations and YA dystopia.
Instead, eschewing glamour for drama, his very wordy, harshly realistic script demands we listen carefully as devastatingly authentic testimonies are delivered powerfully by unknown actors.
The film may have captured awards attention due to its “worthy” subject matter, but there is no disputing Spotlight is an intelligent, restrained and completely gripping story which needs to be told.