Yes, it’s a lot to deal with. So this is about a specialty team of journalists that work for the Boston Globe in 2001. When they decide to run an exposé piece about the high number of reports of child abuse within the Catholic Church, the entire system is in for a big shake-up. Now being that I am in my Oscar crunch, I have a very high intake of films and not a lot of time to sit down and crank out these reviews (also, downtime at my day job has all but disappeared entirely, thus making this a twofold problem). I actually watched this film over a month ago, but I can tell you one thing: it has stayed with me wholly and completely, which isn’t something that I can say for a lot of other films I have taken in.
I know it is supposedly a very tight race this Oscar season, but this seems like the clear front-runner.
I will say that I felt like this took a good 15 – 20 minutes to get going, which is fine, as you are just getting a non-glamorous introduction to these characters before they get into the full swing of their investigation. Once it does get going, it holds on to your attention without letting go. It’s such a tremendous ensemble performance from this all-star cast, and you really get a sense of what it is that all of these people do for a living; even if they weren’t working on a piece of such high importance, their demeanor wouldn’t change all that much because this is people just doing their jobs and trying to do what is right, and the film as a whole never loses grasp of that feeling. Even the no-name actors that you haven’t seen before give complementing gut-wrenching performances, and Spotlight makes you feel like a journalist, sparking your interest in the process of it all. I have to give a very high commendation to Spotlight because where most films like this would go for the jugular at a moment’s notice given the topic at hand, director Tom McCarthy approaches this with a tremendous amount of subtlety, which is something that is becoming increasingly rare to find in film these days.
I still have a number of films to go, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that this is the ensemble piece of the year.
Spotlight is an excellently made film that is quite hard to watch, given the despicable nature of the subject matter. This year, I’ve now seen movies about child abuse and animal abuse, and it will never be something that is an easy thing to get through, so I honestly don’t know how much repeat viewing one can get out of this. For the story it tells, you experience the full spectrum of emotions; you get excited as a promising lead turns into something more, you get upset when you learn about a grown man’s previous experience with a priest, and you get downright angry when you see the church trying to sweep this under the proverbial carpet. I promise you, when you reach the end of this and you get to see a giant wall of text of affected cities, you will have an involuntary reaction in the pit of your stomach. It’s a very good thing that this movie exists, and it is utmost effective at telling a story that needed to be told.
Spotlight (2015) *****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.