Investigative journalism currently seems a thing of the past. With legal threats hanging over reporters and the insatiable lust for instant news, the chance for airing truth is distant. That’s why it’s refreshing watching ‘Spotlight’. A trip to the recent past where media moguls didn’t dictate what was said and free of bias, the featured reporters thrive on conveying facts. Such journalists still exist and hopefully will again appear ready to unearth the truth behind one-sentence headlines.
A deep reporting unit of the Boston Globe newspaper, ‘Spotlight’ takes its time in developing stories. Among the journalists are Walter (Michael Keaton), Sacha (Rachel McAdams) and Mike (Mark Ruffalo). When new Editor-in-Chief Marty (Liev Schreiber) wants them to delve into allegations of underage sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, they are initially wary. Soon they discover a web of lies and decades of deception. Taking on the powerful Catholic hierarchy, the ‘Spotlight’ team aim to reveal the murky underbelly some will hide at any cost.
‘Spotlight’ presents an excellent case for cinematic minimalism. Free of the histrionics some dramas use, ‘Spotlight’ offers a straight-forward and absorbing narrative. The journalists are there to do their job and discover a cesspool of shocking actions. A story of the abuse of power and how an institution tries to maintain it shows how a culture of secrecy can easily develop. The statements from victims are sometimes harrowing to hear, such is a screenplay determined to present the outrageous acts for what they were.
Tom McCarthy’s steady direction ensures ‘Spotlight’ maintains an even pace. The performers bring much gravitas to their roles, helping McCarthy to show their rage and singular determination in revealing ugly truths. With the strong screenplay they’re given, they force the viewer to question their own attitudes and amazement at how such crimes could occur. ‘Spotlight’ isn’t anti-religion despite its central motif but keenly wants to rail against how the exploitation of any authority should never be tolerated.
Less reliant on technological means and more on their analytical skills, the characters of ‘Spotlight’ make it worth watching. Their efforts can only be applauded and makes one hope such crimes on a huge scale never happen again.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 8
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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