James Hill reviews Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, following the uncovering of the sexual abuse scandal by priests in Boston, under the Boston Globe investigative journalist group, ‘Spotlight’.
Now for most cinema goers, a film centered around journalists has a predominant focus on the quick fire dialogue one might expect from a film about Mark Zuckerberg. Quick scene transitions and spiky, fiery editors with nothing left to lose. However, in Spotlight, the biopic of the investigation into the mass paedophilia present in the church, this is cast aside in favour of a keen focus on the actual work of investigative journalists.
This involves trawling through dusty records, interviewing door to door and running into corrupt institutional brick walls. The actors involved, a bullish Mark Ruffalo, a bloodhound Michael Keaton, a waspish Rachel McAdams and an impressive supporting cast, illustrate a complicated yet fascinating tapestry. The cinematography hovers over unshaven faces and bloodshot eyes in a realistic and compelling manner, the camera lingering over church steeples and spires as an allegory for the broken trust which permeates every frame.
The actors involved, a bullish Mark Ruffalo, a bloodhound Michael Keaton, a waspish Rachel McAdams and an impressive supporting cast, illustrate a complicated yet fascinating tapestry.
The plot revolves around the ‘Spotlight’ investigative team between 2001-2002, before and after 9/11, and their attempts to expose rampant child abuse in the Boston archdiocese. A tattered, yet dogged, Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo) ensures a committed performance in which every revelation of the scale of the prescient issue at the heart of the film embitters him further. Michael Keaton, building upon his acclaimed turn in Birdman, could have fallen into a cliché tour de force in which his character Walter “robby” Robinson adds a Robert Redford quality to this tale of broken promises and trust.
Instead, its strength lies in the mundanity and minutiae of its approach.
The crux of this engaging and well wrought film is the lack of extreme action or drama which usually is a hallmark of a biopic. Instead, its strength lies in the mundanity and minutiae of its approach. Whilst boring to some viewers, it addresses disturbing and powerful subject matter with no attempt at glamorisation. A fine film with good performances and a strong contender for the Best Picture win at this year’s Oscars.
Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and John Slattery
Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams), Best Director, Best Editor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture
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