Spotlight

Cert: 15

Runtime: 128 mins

Director: Tom McCarthy

Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery

Rating:  *****

I went along to Cineworld in Stevenage to watch this movie and although it was not in one of their largest screens, it was full. As the film ended you could sense that everyone was sitting there somewhat shocked by what they had seen.

It was an interesting experience at Cineworld, as all of the computers were down, staff were handwriting tickets and it was a free for all, even if one had pre-booked a seat. I’m sure there must have been some disgruntled customers who had pre-booked only to find themselves much nearer the screen than they thought.

However, it is difficult not to be moved by Spotlight which tells the story about the journalistic investigations that revealed the systemic concealment by the Catholic Church in Boston of almost 100 paedophile priests in 2001/2002.

The film starts with the arrival of Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), a new editor at the Boston Globe.  He is an unmarried Jew from Florida who is very much the outsider in a tight knit predominately Catholic Boston community. However, it is his single minded determination to raise the fortunes of the Globe and drive through the story that gradually emerges, which proves to be the catalyst for the scale of the cover up reaching the public domain.

Based upon true events the excitement of the movie arises from the journalistic team of four piecing together random scraps of evidence, some of which lead to incredibly difficult conversations, others to nowhere very much, as they are gradually brought together to paint a picture that they all find difficult to comprehend.

Michael Keaton plays Walter “Robby” Robinson the editor of the Globe’s Spotlight team brilliantly, as he pushes hard to gain the evidence required to enable the story to go public, whilst slowly realising that everything is not as it should have been at The Globe.

Mark Ruffalo is Mike Rezendes, the newspapers star reporter who becomes emotionally attached to the story and along with Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) who ends up having most of the difficult conversations with the many victims, and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) a veteran at the Globe, they spend two years painstakingly putting everything together.

Director Tom McCarthy keeps the pace of the film moving along despite large parts of it taking part in the Globe’s offices. However, sequences such as two of the reporters interviews with abuse victims being knitted together, whilst challenging to watch because of their descriptive nature, also add an almost thriller like quality to what in reality is procedural journalism.

Added to the four journalists in pursuit of justice is Stanley Tucci who plays a lawyer constructing a class action against the Church. The relationship that he and Ruffalo build in pursuit of their goal is just one of the many strands that underpins this movie.

The movie makes no attempt to neatly package events into a tidy ending; it brings uncomfortably close events that are sometimes easy for one to remain detached from when just a TV news item.  The sense of disbelief, frustration and anger at the level of abuse that took place and is still happening to this day were palpable in the screening I attended. Possibly the only uplifting aspect to Spotlight is the depiction of the dedication, courage and stubbornness of the very few that were determined to lay bare the abuse and deception that had existed for decades.

This really is a must see movie, the cast are all superb and this is reflected in the number of nominations Spotlight has received, so make sure you catch this one before it leaves your local cinema.

(Written by Howard Groves)