Review: Tom McCarthy’s Oscar contender follows a special investigation team under ‘The Boston Globe’ in unraveling a circle of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Based on a very harrowing, bitter fact, Spotlight honestly delivers it in a Best Original Screenplay spirit that re-transcends journalism movie into radar.
Spotlight highlights the early coverage of Boston Globes to one of the biggest scandal involving Catholic Church – in which series of child abuses have been going around unnoticed by law. Members of Spotlight – the special team consisting of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdam), and Matt Carroll (Bryan D’Arcy James) under Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) – started noticing some abnormal law-enforcing patterns involving priests. It needs new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), to finally break the silence and take the case into concerns.
Starting from a case against a priest, the team immediately investigated more and discovered that the number escalates quickly into almost a hundred priests involved in similar scandal in Boston alone. There’s a moment of terror and insecurity when such numbers finally surfaced. By that moment, there’s a profound paradox in the nature of Spotlight Team. Living in a very Catholic town of Boston, even growing up under Boston Catholic society did not encourage the all-Bostonian members of Spotlight to make the story into coverage until an outlander, Marty – a non-Bostonian Jew, finally found the value of the story without religion sentiment, but a simple conscience.
During the tenure, Tom McCarthy and co-writer, Josh Singer, are determined not to directly ‘attack’ the Catholic Church with accusations. They instead present data resulted from researches and interviews, collected from Sacha’s sympathetic encounters with victims or Mike’s thoughtful discussion with lawyer and govt. There is some occasional emotion breaks at the rise of the case, but Spotlight isn’t about the emotion; it’s about being rational over an issue—the way journalists do when covering up a case.
McCarthy’s directing in Spotlight is unquestionably strong in keeping it poignant at all time while at the same time it sounds hopeful without accusing anyone. Watching Spotlight is not like watching CSI or any whodunit movie. It has the grand pattern screened to audiences, then with McCarthy’s unequivocal directing wrapped in Tom McArdle’s slick editing, Spotlight guides us to join up each dots of information and connect lines of clues in order to get into the grand pictures underlying the grand pattern with quick pace and tons of energy in every scene.
On the other side, Spotlight might not have exquisite directing or flamboyant cinematography like sole Oscar contenders. The whole movie isn’t stylish and, in fact, it is too square; but it grabs the true romance of journalism, in which formality is always its end-result, no matter how dirty the process is. In that point, McCarthy naturally translates it into some repetitive and formal sequences, which only get better as it goes. At the same rush, Spotlight also manages to embrace the spirit of Spotlight Team as a team, not only some stand-out individuals. Even when Ruffalo and McAdams get most screen-time, they’re not merely the main protagonist since they’re only ‘some parts’ of the protagonist—the team.
In the end, Spotlight delivers a very strong journalism movie—where journalism is celebrated at its very core. For around 2 hours of the duration, it showcases a fast-paced, energetic, poignant, hopeful, and honest drama which, frankly, deserves Best Original Screenplay awards at best.
Drama, Biography, History Directed by: Tom McCarthy Written by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer Starred by: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery Runtime: 128 mins Rated R