Dir: Tom McCarthy (2015)
This paced and shockingly true newsroom story puts us behind the desk with a small team of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe who broke the story of rampant child molestation with the city’s Catholic church. The 5th film from the excellent Tom McCarthy sees his journalists driven by their job and later by a palpable moral obligation when a new editor (Liev Schreiber) is hired to shake up the paper; Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James‘s tiny crew hit the streets, knock on the doors and make the calls, slowly uncovering the deep, dark and harrowing truth.
Spotlight deals with the story beautifully; Much like David Fincher‘s Zodiac or Pakula’s All The President’s Men, it makes the pavement-pounding, paperwork-scouring, library-going scenarios strangely thrilling. The power of the Catholic Church and thus the blind eye turned by the state’s heads and law officials makes for some incredibly bitter viewing but McCarthy, with his beautiful knack for real characters, somehow manages to make each their opinions cut through the hideous bureaucracy.
There’s a lot of anger in this film which is summed up beautifully by Stanley Tucci’s fantastic lawyer; “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one”. With that, Spotlight throws its light much, much wider. The cast are stellar; Ruffalo plays his burly man with a soft voice like a fine instrument. McAdams is perfectly cast, bringing enough fire when she needs it in one of the films best scenes. Keaton shows Birdman was no comeback fluke with brilliantly nuanced performance, worried and appalled. The support is very fine too; Billy Crudup, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci all throwing weight behind some small and some meaty secondary roles.
McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer have written a fantastic story behind the story which plays out with little visual flair; Its 70 news-breaker influences are easily mentioned but Spotlight really has no style at all. And that’s no bad thing. Quite the opposite. It’s a film which is shown plainly and truthfully in order to let the hypocrisy of a community and its religiously shackled politics become crystal clear.