Friday, December 11, 2015


In a true ensemble Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James star as The Boston Globe investigative group (bolstered by characters played by John Slattery and Liev Schreiber) that pulled on the thread of a single story involving a Catholic priest's sexual abuse of a child to uncover a story with staggering ramifications for the entire Boston community. Based on true events, writer/director Tom McCarthy's film follows the investigation as it uncovers a conspiracy of silence involving dozens of priests and hundreds of victims in the Boston area alone.

A bit of a throwback to the types of old school newspaper movies Hollywood has gotten out of the habit of making in recent years (at least memorable ones), Spotlight takes us on a year-long journey with the "Spotlight" team as, under orders from the paper's new editor (Schreiber), they discover a story far bigger than anyone thought possible. Knowledge of the events doesn't detract from the story McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer set out to tell. The revelations are still shocking more than a decade after the story saw print in early 2002.

Although we get short glimpses of the lives of some of the team members outside of work, Spotlight doesn't try to shoehorn in unnecessary subplots. The film is about a dedicated group of individuals whose lives revolve around the work and work relationships as they band together to tell the most shocking story of their collective careers. Even at a 128-minute running time the movie is lean and dialed-in on the story it wants to tell.

The cast is terrific. Without either a true male or female lead it's not likely to garner the awards consideration it deserves in the leading acting categories. That's a shame as each actor brings something memorable to the project. Along with the core group we also get Stanley Tucci as a lawyer struggling to get justice for some of the priests' victims, and Jamey Sheridan and Billy Crudup as local lawyers conflicted with their roles in the out of court hush-money suits which were used to keep the stories out of the local and national press.

The story the "Spotlight" team uncovered is appalling but the movie itself in completely engaging and extremely careful about how it approaches its subject matter. Centered around the investigative process, Spotlight does justice to journalism while showcasing how such an assignment can begin to weigh heavy on each of the reporters involved. It's easily one of the best films of the year.

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