Film & TV

Film Review: Spotlight

Back in an age when journalism put facts over sensationalism, a deep reporting unit sets out to expose allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Investigative journalism currently seems to be 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 news was 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 Spotlight 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 they 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.

Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 10: 8

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