For a film that focuses on the standard practices of journalism, Spotlight is anything but generic. A rousing and powerful story, the film is a window into both tragedy and reality, yet remains engaging in its characters.
Boston, Massachusetts. Following the retirement of a veteran editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) is recruited as the new editor of the Boston Globe, determined to raise their falling readership. Baron recruits the Spotlight team, including Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) to uncover a conspiracy within the Catholic Church, in which a group of local priests are convicted of molesting children. As the story unravels, and the extent of the damage is seen, Spotlight begins to fight an institution that grooms it own.
A film like Spotlight is naturally grim, but the journalistic practices of the film gives it an interesting perspective, and allows the story to unravel naturally. The scenes of victims, and even more so those which show the cover up, are shocking, but director Tom McCarthy doesn’t pull any false drama, and makes the film both an intellectual and moral thriller. While it’s ultimately apolitical, it does do a good job at conveying the power of journalism in a situation like this.
The intelligence of how the film breaks down journalism only works due to its cast. It’s a large ensemble, but the actors naturally fit into the story, and the film doesn’t sacrifice its realism to create a “main character”. Among the standouts are the works of Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton in their respective roles within Spotlight, but Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, and Stanley Tucci are also strong in their roles.
Spotlight is a provocative, powerful story, that gets to the journalism behind news and the humans behind journalism. Sure to be an Oscar hit, it’s an important and masterful film. Grade: A