Spotlight (2015)

Review #1,255

Director:  Tom McCarthy
Cast:  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery
Plot:  The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Genre:  Drama / History
Awards:  Won 2 Oscars - Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay.  Nom. for 4 Oscars - Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Film Editing.  Won Silver Mouse (Venice).  
Runtime:  128min
Rating:  NC16 for some language including sexual references.
International Sales:  Entertainment One
Singapore Distributor:  Shaw Organisation

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.  That's the truth of it.”

If its direct competitor The Revenant wasn't around, Spotlight would have easily won Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars.  This is an indicator of its quality.  And as far as American pictures go for this year, Spotlight ranks as one of its finest achievements. 

Starring a slew of familiar actors including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Stanley Tucci, the film is an ensemble piece that ticks like clockwork, be it the acting chemistry of the cast or the constant beat-for-beat dialogue delivered with aplomb by the actors.

Written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (who also directed this picture), the script ought to win Best Original Screenplay, the very least that the film deserves even if it loses out in the other five categories it is nominated for. 

Based on true events of an unbelievable scandal that rocked the city of Boston that led to countless more shocking revelations around the world, Spotlight shines its powerful lamp on sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests over decades in the city. 

The Spotlight team of investigative journalists, headed by Keaton's character, digs deep into these controversial allegations and attempt to paint a truthful and comprehensive picture of the whole matter, which could have been institutionalized. 

Straddling both journalistic and legalistic realms, Spotlight is highly engrossing despite the jargonistic and procedural nature of its material.  As far as journalism is concerned, the film is a ringing endorsement of the work journalists do, and more crucially, the need for a free, independent press that does not subordinate to religion or politics.

The standout performance comes from Mark Ruffalo, who embodies a scruffy, I-get-what-I-want journalist.  In the film's most outstanding dramatic moment – a heated editorial confrontation between Ruffalo and Keaton, I felt a rare sense of the screen overpowering me, a sensation of being one with the film. 

Because of this, and the feeling that the film is utterly confident with its material and presentation, Spotlight is as assuring as it is enlightening.  This is Tom McCarthy's best film since the vastly underrated The Visitor (2007).

Verdict:  A superb and highly engrossing journalistic procedural that is utterly confident with its material and presentation – this is Best Picture quality.


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