Sunday, February 07, 2016

Movie Review - Spotlight

Spotlight (2015)
Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci
Directed by Tom McCarthy

There's a straightforward, no-frills temperament to the true story that is Spotlight that is oddly refreshing in a cinematic era in which we find ourselves often wowed by exquisite cinematography or fancy special effects or even edgy scripts.  Director and co-screenwriter Tom McCarthy has crafted a film that not only honors the young victims sexually abused by Catholic priests, but also pays tribute to investigative newspaper journalism, a seemingly dying industry that proved vital in exposing this particularly heinous injustice.

When new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) is hired at the Boston Globe in 2001, several reporters find themselves on edge worried about their jobs, particularly Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton) who heads up a four-person investigative journalism team known as Spotlight who take months to research issues in order to produce incredibly in-depth articles.  The team -- which also includes Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matt Carroll (Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James) -- is stripped of their current investigation and tasked by Baron to look at possible sexual abuse crimes within the Catholic Church after the editor reads about a low-rent lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) who is representing several alleged victims, purporting that the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law, is simply moved offending priests from parish to parish after being faced with claims of abuse.

Spotlight unravels like an intense mystery -- albeit one in which the audience already knows the horrific outcome -- and director and co-screenwriter McCarthy does an admirable job of keeping us invested in the proceedings especially when a whole lot of names come in and out of play and the legal logistics of things may seem too heavy for the average moviegoer.  While certainly a film that respects the atrocities the victims of the sexual abuse faced, Spotlight also is a great homage to print journalism which has certainly suffered in the wake of the internet and 24-hour cable news (both of which have likely harmed the "institution of journalism" in irreversible ways with in-your-face biases).  The acting ensemble is an incredibly solid one with no one single actor "standing out" -- and that's a positive in a film like this.  There's a "no one is greater than any other" mentality and given the teamwork necessary for the Spotlight writers to pull off this investigation, the ensemble blends into one another quite well.  Kudos also must be lauded on the many actors playing sexual abuse victims who undoubtedly add the heart and gravitas to the story.

This movie hit close to home to me as a Catholic and perhaps my views are skewed because of it, however, I think it's an important flick for people of my faith to watch.  There was some horrific wrongs inflicted on a great many people and we must face our misdeeds in order to try and move past them as best we can.  Spotlight was an engaging experience for me and a well-made film on top of that.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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