Saturday, December 12, 2015


Plot: A team of newspaper reporters investigates systematic child abuse in the Boston Catholic Church in 2001. It shows the process of investigation and reporting along with reporters trying to cope with the emotional wreckage of the emerging scandal. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Spotlight is a heroic reporter story; it gets its energy from the emotional stress of priests abusing children. The reporters come off as heroes, and in this case they probably were.

The plot is all numbers, dates and documents. To make Spotlight work, it needed good actors, and these actors were fun to watch. Mark Ruffalo gave his character an intense, Alsperger's syndrome focus - hands in the pockets, head cocked, with an laser intensity stare. Stanley Tucci is always one of my favorites. Rachel McAdams and John Slattery both provide emotional resonance.

The best scene is when the reporters are gathered around a desk getting good news on the phone, and they all react to it in a different way. It is like a little wordless play.

Remarkably, all this interviewing and phoning and legal fights and paperwork is threaded into a story that is compelling and interesting: great directing by Tom McCarthy. The difficulty with the directing is the primary case for a 4 star rating.

I tend to believe that Catholic priests have been routinely having sex with children for hundreds of years, but happily in the 21st Century, it is being stamped out.

As a lapsed Catholic, I find the whole episode emotional retching. The clerical culture that allowed abuse for centuries isn't apparent to parishioners in the pews. The clerical culture is secretive to keep the illusion going, and it's mission is not congruent with the mission of the Church. In my view the resistance against female priests is also from the clergy, not the laity or the theology.

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Katon, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiger, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery

Directed by:
Tom McCarthy

Written by:
 Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

The Music: I never noticed the music. Was there any?

The Visuals:
Almost entirely dialog. Nothing fancy.

3.5 stars: A 3 star movie with an extra half star for the message. While the story-telling and directly may merit a 4, it just doesn't feel like to me. 

More: Here is the real Spotlight team.


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