‘Spotlight’ shines light on scandal


(Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films via AP)

This photo provided by courtesy of Open Road Films shows, Rachel McAdams, from left, as Sacha Pfeiffer, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes and Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll, in a scene from the film, “Spotlight.”

Fabian Brims, Writer

In 2002, the investigation team of the Boston Globe, called ‘Spotlight’, uncovered a huge scandal about child abuse by pastors, which ultimately turned into a worldwide scandal that shattered the Catholic Church.

This movie tells the story of how the reporters found the story, investigated the details, and finally published it.

The movie is based on actual events, and the actors do an awesome job portraying mostly real-world people. The movie features Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci and was written and directed by Tom McCarthy.

Ruffalo plays a journalist that gets closer to the story than is good for him; Keaton is the head of ‘Spotlight’, which divides him between his colleagues and former classmates that are now working as lawyers for the church; and Stanley Tucci is hardly recognizable wearing a toupee.

Also, art direction did a great job not stylizing the sets. The reporters’ offices are a mess, and except for a banquet of the Church, nothing is fancy in this movie.

Computers are huge as per the times, and everybody looks shockingly normal. This contributes to the story and ultimately grounds it, which makes the movie accessible to the audience.

Filming a story based on real events often limits the ability to tell a story properly, but not here. Even though we rarely see something other than reporters investigating, interviewing people, and digging in archives, this two-hour-long movie keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The more the journalists uncover, the more you also disbelieve the size of the scandal. Like ‘All the Presidents Men,’ this movie shines the light on investigating journalists. Once good journalists find a story, they dig deeper and deeper to uncover the whole scope of it.

What’s really remarkable about that movie is how engrossing it is. Watching it in a press screening, I was surprised when people applauded at certain scenes in the middle of a movie. For example, there is a scene about a pastor who tries to justify rape as an act of education, and the reporters dismiss his argument. It is so realistic you forget you are watching a movie at times. Never has 128 minutes felt so short to me.

Many people may see this movie critically, because of the Catholic Church’s role. They covered up the events for decades, and even after the uncovering they hardly cared for making things right, not even talking about the victims. However, this movie doesn’t condemn the Catholic Church, but rather the criminal acts its members committed.

This is similar to today’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that condemns criminal acts done by law enforcement officers. It does not condemn the police per se, which is important to understand since the perpetrators now and then try to hide within the whole institution rather than expose their own wrongdoings.

If you are a fan of true stories of underdogs against perpetrators or just well written, dialogue-based thrillers, you’ll be deeply satisfied with this movie. I give it a ten out of ten.

Spotlight was released Nov 6 and is directed by Tom McCarthy, with Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery.