Title – Spotlight (2015)
Director – Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent)
Cast – Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy Jones, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup
Plot – The true life story of a small group of Boston Globe newspaper reporters led by Walter Robinson (Keaton) that investigated and reported on the Catholic Churches unethical treatment of abuse victims that suffered at the hands of their priests.
“For a paper to best perform its function, it really needs to stand alone”
Review by Eddie on 1/03/2016 (for Jordan’s take click here)
Well here we have it ladies and gentleman, 2016’s Best Picture winner!
Calling Spotlight an enjoyable film would be wrong due to its heavy subject matter, but Thomas McCarthy’s film is from the get-go an engaging and finely produced piece of filmmaking that aptly shines a light on a pivotal moment in journalistic history that changed the world’s views of Catholicism for ever.
Based on a true story, Spotlight sees McCarthy somehow wash himself clean of the stench that was The Cobbler and dust off any fears we may’ve therefore harboured for him as a filmmaker to deliver his most ambitious and loaded film to date, that also sees him for the first time handle such a powerful story and pedigree cast.
Famous for intimate character studies such as The Station Agent and The Visitor, McCarthy forgoes his tendency to delve into characters over scenarios to focus his story directly into the Boston Globe newspaper’s investigation into abuse cover up in the Catholic Church system. Doing so allows McCarthy to let the story take hold on the viewer and the enormity of the situation wash over us as we realise just what was being uncovered by these reporters, and without ever playing up situations for easy emotional pay offs, McCarthy delivers hits without an air of melodrama or cinematic tricks, no doubt aware that the material speaks for itself.
Saying that the story is the star player here would however take away from a finely tuned ensemble that’s led by another great Michael Keaton performance and both a reminder of Mark Ruffalo’s talents and Rachel McAdam’s ability when given the right substances to work with, although her Oscar nomination feels somewhat strange. Each actor brings a subtle nuance to their incarnations and they act as another telling example of McCarthy’s (an actor himself) ability to not only direct and write, but draw out excellent performances from his cast’s.
Spotlight is an astutely crafted investigation procedural that never strays to far from what you’d expect from such a tale but with a winning script and a likeable cast of performers it’s a high quality production that could’ve benefited ever so slightly from a larger focus towards the cinematic.
In light of this however, Spotlight is a quietly powerful and sometimes devastating look at a topic that continues to be played out daily in far too many cities around the world.
4 foreboding church buildings out of 5
P.S – on a side note I’ve had a few people ask me if Spotlight deserves the Best Picture Oscar and I would have to say went weighed up against films like The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, films that in many ways to took far more risks than Spotlight did I would say the answer is no but it’s not at all surprising the Academy choose a topical film more than perhaps the “best’ film as they have form in this area.