Directed by Tom McCarthy. US. 2015. R. 128 minutes. Open Road. Digital.
Fri., January 1, 2016 thru Thu., January 21, 2016
“The spotlight in Spotlight falls on two places: the Catholic church’s sexual abuse scandals, and the Boston Globe investigative reporting team that won a Pulitzer in the early 2000s for helping to expose them. The molestation angle may make Spotlight sound like a dreary prestige picture, but don’t be put off. Writer-director Tom McCarthy and his co-writer Josh Singer have actually fashioned a classic newsroom drama about men and women doggedly pursuing a story against incredible resistance and in the waning days of their industry, no less.
McCarthy and Singer don’t over-stress that last point. Unlike the recent Truth which used Dan Rather’s 2004 CBS downfall as an occasion for self-righteous speechifying about the death of traditional journalism Spotlight is more subtle about what it’s really revealing. Though the film starts with the threat of cutbacks and the arrival of an intimidating outsider, new editor Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber), it’s the newcomer who actually pushes the Globe‘s special investigations unit “player-coach” Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) to dig deeper into a story that some deeply Catholic Bostonians were choosing to ignore. Spotlight quickly becomes about a time not so long ago when newspapers had the mandate and the resources to do some real reporting.
The movie’s also about what great actors can do when they have strong material and stronger teammates. Beyond the muted Schreiber and the can-do Keaton, Spotlight has Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup as exasperated attorneys, and the outstanding trio of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James as crusading reporters. Again unlike Truth, the cast doesn’t wait around for their chance to make impassioned, scene-hogging pleas. They’re working with the smaller gestures fidgeting with a notebook, arranging sticky notes on a computer monitor that help make this time and place feel more lived-in.
Ultimately, the story these journalists chased was about how institutional power degrades when it gets taken for granted. By thoughtfully and sensitively re-creating the newsroom of 15 years ago, Spotlight tells a similar story about a different institution.” (Noel Murray, Nashville Scene)
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