Starring: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James
Director: Tom McCarthy
Headed by Walter ‘Robbie’ Robinson (Keaton), The Boston Globe’s investigative journalism team ‘Spotlight’ are asked by new editor Matt Carroll (d’Arcy James) to further investigate a recent case of child abuse by a local priest. As the team; Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams) and Marty Baron (Schreiber) look deeper into the allegations they start to uncover numerous further stories of abuse across the priesthood of the Catholic Church and a much deeper story than the individual case which with they began. As the story unfolds, the shocking magnitude of the abuse and cover ups from newspapers, lawyers and the church itself is slowly peeled back.
Given the appalling facts and horrifying magnitude of the events of this true story, it’s odd that the film feels somewhat flat in places. Never does it really get under the skin of its characters and the mostly impassive labour of the Spotlight team seems to encourage resignation rather than shock and anger. Its purely linear narrative sometimes gives Spotlight the air of a documentary rather than a feature film, the facts mostly outplaying the emotions.
One thing Spotlight does well is to illustrate how people will turn a blind eye to the seemingly obvious wrongs should the protagonists be an integral part of society’s fabric, as the Catholic Church is in many parts of the United States. ‘If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one’ is briefly overheard in a church dinner gala.
Ruffalo does his best to add dimension to Rezendes’ character and occasional moments of emotion from MacAdams helps to pull the plot through its more delicate spells. Keaton is Keaton; solid, dependable and straight-laced but lacking in depth. It’s D’Arcy James who pulls off the best performance as the quiet but uncompromising new editor, a subtly understated role which will finally put him on the Hollywood radar. Stanley Tucci also impresses as the infuriated and tireless sex abuse lawyer Mitchell Garabedian.
Spotlight is an important film, dealing with the true-life events of the sickening exploitation of trust and innocence, but somehow never really fully delivers on its potential. Given its subject matter, it should have been a much more difficult film to watch.
6 / 10