Spotlight (2015) – Review

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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.

Image courtesy: IMDb

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.

Image courtesy: IMDb

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.

Spotlight (2015)

Drama, Biography, History Directed by: Tom McCarthy Written by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer Starred by: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdamsLiev SchreiberStanley TucciJohn Slattery Runtime: 128 mins Rated R


7 responses

  1. Brittani Avatar

    Great review! Spotlight is one of my favorite movies of the year. I really want it to win Best Picture, though I think The Big Short will take it.

    1. Thanks! I don’t think they’ll win Best Picture due to the unsexy directing and all. Best Original Screenplay is all what it will win. Frankly.

  2. Great review! I loved Spotlight, and the whole cast. I thought it was so well done it didn’t even feel like I was watching a movie. Really hoping it wins Best Screenplay, but if it won Best Picture I’d be over the moon!
    – Allie

    1. The whole cast is indeed winning Spotlight over everything! I’m front runner in supporting it to win Best Original Screenplay, but I won’t hope it will Best Picture. It just can’t.

  3. Hey, I never heard from you again after that last e-mail. Still up for it?

    I loved Spotlight too. I agree that it focused on data and research, I think because it is the safest way since the topic is sensitive. No one really stood out as a star, but they have a very strong cast

    1. Dear Andina, sorry for not hearing back. Been busy with things I almost forgot about that. I’m still making the list but I’ll send it to you asap.
      That’s what makes Spotlight different, right?

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