Spotlight is the name of the magazine within The Boston Globe, run by a four-person team who keeps their work confidential and can spend up to a year to investigate a subject thoroughly, sometimes also taking around 2 months to find their new one , which makes them seem somewhat unproductive. However, but with the internet being something that’s up and coming, can they afford to be so sloth-like in their approach? And with a new head honcho, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) taking over, will he make cuts, and where?
Set in 2001, the team sees Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) leading interpid investigative reporters Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), and their big story comes in the form of Catholic priests abusing children. While the revelations were shocking when we all first heard about this, since it’s not only an occurence in Boston but all over the world, it’s intriguing to see how the revelations became public.
The starting point is with Marty bringing up an article written by Eileen McNamara, there, about the Geoghan case, about a priest with that name abusing 80 children in 6 parishes over 30 years, and he wants to know how are they following it up? Normally, they don’t. They don’t plan to, either. However, a new broom means changes and for this case, not only were several priests partaking in this horrendous practice, but their Cardinal knew about it fifteen years ago and dismissed the claim, so it’s all very ‘Jimmy Savile’.
The journalists speak to survivors, some of whom were even attacked as so-called ‘treatment centres’ and the process will also bring up the thorny topic of Spotlight effectively suing the Catholic Church to reveal specific info that they need – something that will not go unnoticed, particularly since 53% of the subscribers to the Boston Globe are Catholic. As well, as the huge stink that will arise from it all going public.
As an aside, at one point, it was interesting to spot an AOL billboard display, a company which has since fallen into decline and been bought by Verizon Communications.
The content matter of Spotlight may be offputting to some cinemagoers, and the film does occasionally suffer from some pedestrian formatting in how it goes from A to B to C, and so on, in the telling of the story, but it’s mostly solid with engaging performances from all the leads in the Spotlight office, plus Billy Crudup as Eric Macleish, a lawyer involved with settling claims between the victims and the Church, and Stanely Tucci, as superb as ever, here as solicitor Mitchell Garabedian.
I could go into more detail about the things they uncover, but that would rob the film of what you discover from it. So go into it knowing that it’s well worth a watch. All you need to know in addition is the question – just how much do you upset the applecart to get to the heart of the story?
Running time: 128 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures UK
Format: 1.85:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Released: January 29th 2016
Director: Tom McCarthy
Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Michael Sugar
Screenplay: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Music: Howard Shore
Mike Rezendes: Mark Ruffalo
Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson: Michael Keaton
Sacha Pfeiffer: Rachel McAdams
Matt Carroll: Brian d’Arcy James
Marty Baron: Liev Schreiber
Ben Bradlee Jr: John Slattery
Mitchell Garabedian: Stanley Tucci
Barbara: Elena Wohl
Steve Kurkjian: Gene Amoroso
Peter Canellos: Doug Murray
Helen Donovan: Sharon McFarlane
Jim Sullivan: Jamey Sheridan
Phil Saviano: Neal Huff
Eric Macleish: Billy Crudup
Court Clerk Mark: Robert B Kennedy
Hansi Kalkofen: Duane Murray
Paul Burke: Brian Chamberlain
Joe Crowley: Michael Cyril Creighton
Pete Conley: Paul Guilfoyle
Richard Sipe: Richard Jenkins (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.