Spotlight is another of those movies that I’d really not planned on seeing since at first glance it seemed like one of those November/December movies that come out in time to get some Oscar consideration and are really in the category of “movies I should see” rather than “movies I want to see”, especially considering the subject matter is the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Boston area and throughout the Catholic church.
However, after hearing some very positive word of mouth and taking a look at the cast list I decided to give it a go.
Fortunately, this is not one of those films that dwells on the tragedy and misery that is inherent in the subject. Instead, the focus is on the Spotlight team of investigative reports who work for the Boston Globe and who were instrumental in uncovering not only the story itself but the depth of the systemic corruption that allowed it to continue and the cover-up which was going on in the church itself.
In a lot of ways, the movie reminded me of the classic Watergate investigation film All the President’s Men.
One of the other things that one can’t help but think about while watching Spotlight is the importance of this kind of in depth investigative reporting, and, in today’s atmosphere of rush to print and being the first to cover something, and the wall-to-wall television coverage of “news” which leads to so much airtime being taken up by reporters basically saying things like “We don’t really know anything yet, but here’s a summary of what we don’t know” or to rushes to judgement and air or the internet with stories, speculation, and “facts” that ultimately prove later to be untrue or misinterpreted.
Again, fortunately, while this is definitely part of the subtext of the movie, it never becomes enough of the text that Spotlight begins to feel like it’s preaching on the matter.
Obviously, kudos to the cast all around, especially Michael Keaton who uses this movie to prove that he can still subsume the “Michael Keaton” character that was so much on display in Birdman to very effectively portray Spotlight team leader Walter “Robbie” Robinson and Mark Ruffalo who once again shows why he may very well be one of this generation’s best actors with his performance as reporter Michael Rezendez.
In the end, however, this is definitely an ensemble film, and the entire cast delivers just what they need to to contribute to the whole, and to yes, shine a spotlight on just how powerful true journalism can be.