Cinema Nova, Tuesday 15 December 2015, 6:30pm
Running time: 128m
Country: United States
Classification: M (TBC)
Release date: 28/01/16
Rating: 8/10 (ME 4/5, DP 4/5)
With new management at The Boston Globe bringing about a change in priorities, the crack investigative journalist team of the Spotlight unit need a big story to secure their existence. In the predominantly Catholic Boston of the early 2000s the biggest story wasn't just the abuse of children by clergy but the systematic cover-up that allowed it to happen and continue. Robby (Michael Keaton) and his team, Mike (Mark Ruffalo in a standout performance), Sacha (Rachel McAdams) and Matt (Brian d'Arcy James), face opposition and deliberate obstruction from colleagues and family members as well as the secrets of their pasts in a quest to uncover a dark and disturbing injustice.
Spotlight is a film about journalistic integrity amidst the attempts by the church to cover up crimes committed by priests. The script is tight and deliberate and provides the perfect vehicle for the cast to engage with perfectly written characters that are defined by their personal flaws as much as their commitment to revealing or concealing the truth. Liev Schreiber's detached performance as new Globe editor Marty Baron provides the calm counterpoint to the frenzy of the Spotlight office, and Stanley Tucci as attorney Mitchell Garabedian provides the soul of the film as past horrors, spoken and unspoken, are finally revealed.
There are a number of moral issues raised, not simply about the content of their investigation but also about personal demons, passions and priorities. Many cliches are employed here (the knocking on doors montage, the vital clue hiding in plain sight, the presses rolling into action etc) and there is a lack of original style throughout. The film is slightly too long with a few superfluous scenes making it into the final edit. The complexity of the investigation and the legal machinations slow the pace at times. However the cleverly crafted script and committed performances shine through the familiar conventions to produce a film that is confronting, intriguing and ultimately satisfying. (ME)
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