Brian d’Arcy James
“Spotlight” follows the titular investigative journalism team at the Boston Globe in the early 2000s when the reporters uncovered a massive child molestation cover-up within the Catholic Church.
The film picks up when new editor Marty Baron (Schreiber) tasks the Spotlight team, which includes Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo), Walter Robinson (Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams) and Matt Carroll (James), with digging deeper into the cover-up by the church which had been reported on to a smaller extent beforehand.
The biggest strength of “Spotlight” is how straightforward and focused it is. There is no melodrama or unnecessary subplots to create extra theatrics. Director Tom McCarthy knew that the true story already had enough drama and centers on that story with fantastic precision. It leads to an interesting and incredibly engaging film.
The pacing in the movie is perfect. The news coverage on the subject is out there and many already know something pertaining to the church’s scandal, but the film is still able to make this matter interesting because it shows how deep the rabbit hole goes. The film plays out like an investigative mystery and the slow but steady unravel makes for one of the best journalism films that have ever been made.
For example, there is a scene just around the second act of the film where the reporters discover how the church has been transferring accused priests and covering them up in record books. The sense of urgency that this discovery creates is just one of many that occur in the picture.
The movie also shows journalism in a real way. All the reporters are shown as people who have discussions about what the best angle is to take on the story, whether or not they should have gave it coverage at another date and when the articles should be published.
It’s an honest and welcome approach that is sometimes missed in other films that center on the industry.
The acting is Oscar caliber across the board with each performer bringing an intensity to their role. From Ruffalo to Keaton to McAdams, all of the actors playing real life Boston Globe reporters display the full dedication and drive that the actual journalists likely had when covering this story.
What the film, thanks to both the script and the actors, also gets right are the interview scenes. The heavy emotion displayed in the interview sequences, whether they be with lawyers or victims, is convincing and in some cases heartbreaking.
“Spotlight” is without a doubt up there with “All the President’s Men” and is easily one of if not the best movie of 2015. Its attention to detail and focus on the subject along with incredible performances make it a film that will likely win quite a few awards this winter. 5 out of 5.