FILM REVIEW | SPOTLIGHT
Written By Brett Hutton
Learning about the state of modern journalism during my time at university was heartbreaking to say the least. Journalists being reduced to yes-men, stuck behind desks rewriting other people’s articles because of their editors having their palms greased by corporate fat-cat overlords to cover-up any wrong doings they might’ve been involved in. However, learning about the true events this film is based on rejuvenated my faith in 21st century journalism.
Spotlight takes place in 2001 and is based on the efforts of the Spotlight journalist team within the Boston Globe newspaper, who were a pinnacle player in the exposé of the Catholic Church’s mass cover-up of paedophile priests. The story is a fascinating and compelling drama as everyone involved in the investigation has some current or previous connection to the church. As the story progresses, you can feel the weight of the burden on their shoulders. With the journalists, editors, victims, increasing number of cases and the ever-growing list of priests, it all piles up and you can feel it crushing their faith, not just in the religion, but in humanity itself. The facts, the stories, the trauma, cuts the journalists like rusty blades layered with salt as they travel further down the rabbit hole. What started as just one abuse story from one priest grows into a worldwide conspiracy.
The film’s strength comes from its writing, pacing and acting. The cast is fantastic and there’s no real protagonist. The Spotlight team, the Boston Globe editors, abuse victims and primary sources all share an equal amount of screen time as each of them contributes to the story. Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d’Arcy James are convincingly in-sync as the Spotlight team and Liev Schreiber is great as the sombre new editor-in-chief. Stanley Tucci was a stand-out for me with his role as a tired lawyer who feels like the only person fighting a one-man battle against the church’s actions as the story of each abuse victim he defends crushes his spirit.
Spotlight is a harrowing but awe-inspiring story about justice and the power of real journalism. It’s a story that should remind people, journalists and the mass public alike, that the real purpose of journalism is to inform the people, expose the corrupt and bring justice to those who deserve it most.