“I’ve been procrastinating and kind of dreading this write up. Not because I have nothing to say or didn’t like it. God no, far from it. It’s because I have so many thoughts and emotions abounding, and feel so much respect for the filmmakers and their real life counterparts, that I’m scared of this blog post like I’ve never been before. I don’t know that I can do this movie any sort of justice, and I want to so so badly. The thing is, when I walked out of that auditorium, the thought that resounded in my head was “”this is why I go to the movies””. This is the type of film that makes me love my Saturday afternoon double matinee routine. This is why I sit thru so many movies. Because I’m always waiting and hoping that there’ll be a movie as affecting and incredible as Spotlight.
And I’m not just saying that because it’s a Boston movie, although the setting did make me take such pride in my city. Honestly, I’d love for this to become a defining film for our town. Not the corruption and crime depicted in The Departed or the cheesy fluff of Fever Pitch, but this film that depicts true life Bostonians excelling at their work and changing lives in the process. Seriously, I am just in awe.
The film examines the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe, a department of investigative reporters that work on long term projects on large scale stories. In 2001, the team began to look into allegations of child abuse within the Catholic church, specifically reports of priests molesting parish boys. As they begin their research, they find that the scope of this issue is far wider than they could have ever believed, with evidence of a major cover up tracing back to high ranking individuals in the organization hoping to sweep it all under the rug.
First off, the job itself is just fascinating. The way this team works to uncover their story is just so cool to watch, regardless of who or where they are or what they’re looking into. That in and of itself would be enough to carry the film. Then layer on the emotional impact of the story itself that they’re covering. The film never stoops to being exploitative or emotionally manipulative. It rationally presents facts, going into just enough detail to frame the severity of the situation or the incidents. You hear from a variety of victims and you see the toll it takes on the investigators. This is one of those situations where if I didn’t already know it to be true, I would never have believed it. Many many moments of shock and disbelief at what was seeing on screen, and at the same time understanding why this story was so important to tell, both for the original Spotlight team and for the Spotlight filmmakers.
And the cast? Impeccable. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo (who in one particularly big scene may have just won himself a supporting actor Oscar, calling it now), Rachel McAdams, Brian D’arcy James, Liev Schrieber, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery. I mean, are you kidding me? All those names in weighty roles in one film? Do you really need me to discuss their merits any further?
Oh and yes, the Boston factor! First off, I’m a daily reader of Boston.com which is affiliated with The Boston Globe, so I have come across so many supporting articles they’ve published. A quick primer on the gist of the movie and it’s subject, links to the current Spotlight project about concurrent surgeries at major hospitals (fascinating read), a match up of cast and true life counterparts, insight on the real events around one haunting scene. Although I think what I liked best was the list of Boston references shown in the movie. Mostly I liked it because I felt proud of myself for having caught the majority of them while watching (I read the list after).
Another angle they’ve been covering online is the Catholic Church’s response to the film. I gotta say, I have a lot of respect for how they’re handling it. They’re not up in arms over how they’re depicted, or staging protests against the film or throwing shade on its participants. Rather, they’re taking the opportunity to apogolize for their involvement and highlight the efforts made to rectify whatever they can. Most importantly, they’re taking advantage of the hubub to extend a hand out to the victims and offer any aid or counsel they can give. They’re viewing the film as a talking point that can hopefully bring healing to the staggering number of those affected. That is probably the best possible reaction you could ever hope to expect.
Now that I’ve said so much, I don’t know what note to end on, other than strongly encouraging you to see this film. Yes, the subject matter is difficult, but it’s important on many levels. It’s also just an amazing amazing piece of cinema. Just when you may have thought they don’t make ’em like this anymore, they go and do that. Writer/director Tom McCarthy, I salute you.
Spotlight – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”