Movie Title: Spotlight
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 2 hr. and 8 min.
Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo
Where did I watch it?: Home
Spotlight is a tough movie to watch. I am an athiest, but the revelations made by the actual Spotlight news team were revelatory in 2002. When the stories were released, I was 15 and attending a Catholic school in Massachusetts. Nothing ever happened to me or as far as I know anyone I went to school with. But, I followed the reporting on this at the time, and there was always a voice in the back of my head whenever I went to school with those news reports in it.
The movie itself is a great newsroom drama. Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) plays a new editor in chief at the Boston Globe. He tasks Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) and his team of reporters with taking on the Catholic church and uncovering the possibility of serial sexual abuse and cover up at the highest levels of the institution. None of the performances aside from Mark Ruffalo’s are stand out, but they are all solid. The methods used to investigate the church are fascinating. The Catholic church has long had a strong presence in Boston and its ability to egregiously smother free speech and shame victims is well documented in Spotlight. I was concerned that I might know the story too well, but it ultimately didn’t matter too much. Seeing how the church was exposed was still interesting.
Some of the best performances in Spotlight come from the actors that played the victims of sexual abuse. Particularly strong was Michael Cyril Creighton in the role of Joe Crowley. Placing human faces at the center of the story is not always Spotlight’s strong suit, but when they did it, they did it right. I was concerned there would be too much focus on glorifying the Spotlight team, but that glory was thoroughly mitigated by the acknowledgement of the fact that the Boston Globe and many people in the city of Boston knew about horrifying incidents for years. The one significant different being that no one had put it together on the scale the Spotlight team eventually did. Because of their work if you say the names of Father Shandley or Father Geoghan in Massachusetts the majority of people will know what you’re talking about.
Mercifully there was minimal screen time for the actual abusers. Aside from a portrayal of Ronald Paquin no other abusers are given screen time aside from one of the most heinous of all Cardinal Bernard Law. After the scandal he was promoted to one of the church’s highest offices to get him out of Boston, but mercifully he died last year. If there is a hell, I hope he’s burning in it. Aside from some brief forays off topic, the movie is very focused and you learn almost nothing about the characters. The story is the only story that matters and it stays well focused.
Spotlight is essential viewing if you are unfamiliar with the recent sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic church. If you are unfamiliar I also assume you have been living under a rock on the moon. Even if you are familiar with the story the movie is still thoroughly interesting. While I don’t believe it should have won the Academy Award for Best Picture (Mad Max: Fury Road) it is still a good movie. See it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Teeth (2007)