Tom McCarthy directs an ensemble cast in this story following the journalists who brought to light the shocking scale of child abuse being systematically covered up by the Catholic Church.
The story commences as Marty Baron, played by Live Schriber, is employed in his new position as editor of the Boston Globe. Instantly, we get the idea that Baron is a guy who means business. Though Mark Ruffalo was hyped as perhaps the lead of this ensemble (he was the one with the Oscar nom after all), it is Schriber who is the strongest of the bunch for me, with a measured and compelling performance.
We are quickly introduced to the Spotlight team of Michael Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brain d’Arcy James) who are led by Micheal Keaton’s Robby Robinson. Baron’s first focus is the previous coverage, or lack thereof, of previous reports of abuse. He quickly opts to sue for the files of the cases to be released, which he is advised will piss-off the Church. Right from the off, we understand that the catholic church are so ingrained in Boston that attempting to uncover these documents will make enemies.
Over the course of the next 90 minutes, it is revealed that the claims of abuse in the Catholic Church are far more extensive than first feared. For a film about investigative journalism, you could be forgiven for thinking this might be a slow-burner, but this picture proceeds at a compelling pace and does not waste a second. There is no unnecessary dialogue here, no time wasted and every scene it feels, moves the story forward and gets the team closer to uncovering the truth.
At the forefront of the picture at all times are the victims and the horror of the abuse they suffered which is effectively portrayed through strong performances from Ruffalo, d’Arcy James and McAdams, all of whom have emotional encounters with victims. What was also made abundantly clear was that the scale of this operation knew no bounds and priests who were accused of inappropriate behaviour were simply relocated and allowed to continue their practices. The film-makers really do an excellent job of portraying the extent to which the Church knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it.
Also worth a mention is Stanley Tucci, because he’s just great.
Spotlight is an emotionally charged, tense and dramatic depiction of how the truth came out about the systematic abuse and cover-ups in the Church. My only qualm was the lack of fall-out once (Spoiler Alert) Spotlight managed to publish the findings of their investigation which made the ending of the film seem very abrupt, giving us no time to revel in the success of the characters we have been on this emotional journey with, which is a shame as the rest of the film is perfectly paced.