Spotlight isn’t movie for the faint hearted. It tells the extraordinary true story of how a group of investigative journalists unearthed a heart-breaking abuse scandal and ongoing cover-up.
Our story begins in the summer of 2001. Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) has just landed the job as Boston Globe’s new editor. Keen to make his mark Marty doesn’t waste any time asking the investigative team known as Spotlight to shift their focus onto a story with a real punch.
What the new editor doesn’t realise is that he has just set in course a series of events that will shatter not only Boston, or America, but the world. So what’s the story? Marty wants the team to look into why abusive Catholic Priests have gone unpunished for so long.
The Spotlight team is headed up by Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) whose balls are firmly kept in place by his boss Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery). Spotlight includes tenacious reporters Michael
Rezendes (MarkRuffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).
Over the next six months the team work tirelessly to painstakingly piece together the horrifying truth about a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by the Catholic Church and the legal system. The further Spotlight delves into the story the more they realise that this story is so much bigger than Boston. This type of abuse is classed as a psychological phenomenon.
The local diocese isn’t about willing to let Spotlight tarnish the good name of the Catholic Church. They try to put pressure on Walter to give up, but he won’t be deterred. Even Ben telling him to give up doesn’t work. The seasoned journalist knows he’s onto something, he just doesn’t realise how big it is.
Spotlight are determined to uncover the truth and expose the priests that preyed on their young and vulnerable clergy. They speak to brave victims and lawyers in order to get to the bottom of the abuse scandal. What the team discover makes them question their own faith.
Eventually the team uncover and reveal the full magnitude of the situation. Everyone is in on it. The church has been covering the abuse up all along. Lawyers have been looking the other way and guilty priests have been relocated only to offend again.
Director Thomas McCarthy weaves a richly detailed, emotionally involving drama that includes outstanding performances from its superb cast. Schreiber, Slattery, McAdams and Keaton give the piece its heart. But rather disappointingly Ruffalo fails to deliver the intensity his role requires.
Spotlight paints a compelling portrait of investigative journalism at its finest. It’s enthralling and devastating at the same time. The movie is so well made and the subject matter dealt with the perfect dose of respect and delicacy, but it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. The movie saves its biggest sucker punch for the closing scene when it lists all the countries that abuse was uncovered in.
The fearless investigation of the real-life team went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and save countless more children from becoming victims of abuse.
By Ruth Walker