institutions in a town where well over 50% of the population is Catholic, but the more they look into the story, the more they realize it has to be told.The movie could have made heroes of all the reporters who sought to bring out the truth. However, director Tom McCarthy chose to show the team’s hesitation, misgivings, and doubts about reporting on an institution that each reporter had personal connections with at one time or another. I also appreciated that the film never delves into their personal lives. McCarthy could have easily focused his story around Keaton, Ruffalo, or any of the other characters’ personal strife and told the story from their perspective. While we do learn a bit about the reporters those tidbits don’t consume the plot, instead making it a true ensemble piece about the reporting.
What’s weird (in a good way) about Spotlight is its knack for levity. Given the extremely heavy subject matter, I never expected to smile during this movie. But not only did I smile—there were parts of the movie at which I genuinely laughed. I can’t remember if it was the dialogue between characters, or some of the early 00’s relics that hung in the background, but the movie is not all doom and gloom. This makes for an even stronger contrast with the many moments that are downright disturbing.
Most of the drama comes from the journalists’ digging to find as much evidence of systematic corruption as they can. It plays as a bit of a procedural similar to other journalism-focused movies, but despite that familiarity this mechanism works in the movie’s favor. McCarthy highlights the importance that real journalism still has in society, and the virtue that reporters can have when given the freedom and resources to do their jobs. The story feels like it has the potential to veer into melodrama, that a darker force could enter the picture at any point, and that uneasiness keeps the audience engaged until the end.
It is truly a feat of directing to have viewers on the edge of their seats when they already know how a story ends. I don’t believe there is a soul out there that doesn’t remember hearing, and subsequently joking about, this decades-long scandal. Spotlight brings these heinous offenses back to the forefront of people’s minds to remind us of the severity of both the initial crimes and the cover-up that followed; as abuse cases like these continue to surface across the globe, this kind of awareness is the best weapon for protecting other children from these monsters. This is a movie that I hope people will see, as it is easily one of the best three movies I’ve seen this year, and has a serious case for Best Picture come February.