Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl, Gene Amoroso, Jamey Sheridan, Neal Huff, Billy Crudup
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Age Rating: 15/R
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Nowadays, it is very rare to come across a film which is so disturbing, so moving, so engaging and so fascinating to experience that it leaves you speechless. Until now, there have only been a handful of films that have come close to a 5 star rating from Real-Time Write-Ups. The 5 star rating is unfortunately something that gets thrown around loosely these days, and personally, it should be preserved only for the likes of perfect or near perfect films, which is why I use IMDb and, as a result, ‘.5’ star ratings in my reviews; to separate the brilliant from the unforgettable and mind-blowing! I am very excited to say that SPOTLIGHT, is the first of mine (which I have seen since November 2014) to be one of the latter.
Telling the true story of how newspaper, The Boston Globe, uncovered one of the most sickening scandals of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, SPOTLIGHT is not only the ironic film title, but the name of the ruthless and inspiring investigative team of journalists which would try to expose these abusers of trust and power in the early years of the 21st Century. For once, the importance of journalism in our secretive and complicated world is represented.
The story is so captivating and so shocking that you are engrossed from the off. Rather than throwing you straight into the scandal, you are shown how one team’s life was rocked to its core by a frightening assignment from their newly appointed, out-of-town editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber – below). As a tenacious group of journalists, whose faiths in organised religion are not of the strongest, they show little reluctance in taking the case, but nonetheless it is one that needs to be kept as low-key as possible to ensure that the potential story is not ruined by opposition.
Michael Keaton plays the leader of SPOTLIGHT, Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, fantastically, emphasising how disheartening this discovery was, not just in terms of the church, but also the other parties involved, who helped not only hide this mass scandal, but also finance it!
Rachel McAdams is superb, once again, in an intense drama, which along with TRUE DETECTIVE last year, highlights how varied she is as a world-class actress.
Brian d’Arcy James plays Matt Carroll, whose experience with the case hits closer to home than the others, and as a result, James brilliantly portrays how personally attached to a case a reporter can become.
One of the many flawless parts of this film, is how literally all performances from the actors/actresses playing journalists, lawyers, priests and victims are brilliant. In addition to the names mentioned above, credit has to be given to Stanley Tucci for putting in an unusual, yet beautiful emotional display and also Liev Schreiber who intelligently portrays the editor and more or less the co-ordinator of this shocking story.
Yet, there is one performance which soars above all other in this two hour long acting master-class, and it comes from Mark Ruffalo. Playing ruthless and passionate Mike Rezendes, the ‘hot-head’ of the team, Ruffalo gives his best performance to date, and is relentless in his portrayal of the anger and resentment towards the Catholic Church which built up inside Rezendes during this case. He, along with his team, lived for this case during 2001-2002, and most likely several years after that, and Ruffalo emphasises this with an abundance of captivating scenes which leave us as enraged and upset as he is.
The essence of a newspaper team’s everyday life is captured perfectly in this feature. The audacious yet mesmerising script from Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer combined with an impressive score does not just continually build tension in the office scenes, but in literally every single situation. This film does not put a foot wrong, apart from potentially upsetting devout followers of the Catholic Church, but personally it is a disgrace that everybody’s eyes should be opened up to.
Out of all of the Oscar contenders gracing our screens this year, this scandalous and educational picture was the one which enticed me from the get go. Overall, it is a shocking and faith-diminishing story which will leave you with the most confusing concoction of emotions including liberation, distress and rage. However, you will walk away having seen one of the most brilliantly directed and most perfectly acted pieces of cinematic magic that we have seen in the past few decades.
It is a faultless, heart-pounding motion picture which still has me gob-smacked, two days later, at how corrupt, deceiving and disgusting a group of extremely well-respected individuals can be, whilst at the same time fascinated and inspired by how valuable journalism can really be to not just a large American city, but also the entire world.
If it does not walk away with ‘Best Picture’ or ‘Best Supporting Actor’ this year at the Oscars, ironically a miscarriage of justice will have been inflicted on the SPOTLIGHT team!
“Break the story. Break the silence.”
Recommendation: It is criminal if you miss this film! Get out to the cinema and educate yourself on this perfectly told shocking and disgraceful true story!