Spotlight is an entertaining investigative journalism film filled with engaging drama, buoyed by great performances from the entire cast.
Spotlight takes us back to 2001 where the Boston Globe has received a new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schrieber). On his first day, Baron tasks the Spotlight team—Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’ Arcy James)—to investigate the alleged sexual abuses of children by Catholic priests. The Spotlight team assigns themselves different tasks to gather information: Robby and Sacha go talk to lawyer Eric Macleish (Billy Crudup), who represented the victims of sexual abuse; Matt gathers up all the books and documents relating to the parishes where priests were stationed; and Michael goes to talk to lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), who represents the victims of sexual abuse and provides Mike with vital information about the church. As the team begins to dig up more about the victims and the priests themselves, they unravel a mystery that is shocking and unbelievable to fathom.
Directed by Tom McCarthy, Spotlight is a well-made drama that captures the heart of Boston and the people inhabiting it. What McCarthy does so well with Spotlight is that he paints Boston as a fleshed-out character. Scenes showing reporters at a ball game, children loitering outside of school, and churchgoers attending service show us Boston in all its entirety. For that reason, viewers will start to understand the reporters’ motivations for trying to protect and improve their city.
McCarthy films Spotlight in a conventional way. The film lacks stylistic flourishes and instead unfolds in well-filmed, but documentary-esque sequences. While these scenes may not detract from the film, they don’t offer anything refreshing or new to the investigative journalism genre. With that said, Spotlight still intrigues viewers with its shocking subject matter and engaging drama.
Written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight is one of the best movies of 2015. McCarthy and Singer took the time to fine-tune the script to present the film with no unnecessary scenes. They even skipped over some of the miniscule details that journalists do such as looking up dates in books and filling out spreadsheets of information. Moreover, they both framed the story in a way for the film to unravel with new details in every scene. As the movie unfolds, every new piece of information is new and offers something interesting to the investigation. Additionally, McCarthy and Singer factor in real-world events into the film to ensure viewers fully immerse themselves into the story. With all that said, McCarthy and Singer craft an excellent script full of drama, intrigue, and twists. It should come to no surprise that the screenplay for Spotlight is one of the best of 2015.
On an acting level, Spotlight benefits from a cast of talented actors. Michael Keaton, who gave a great performance in 2014’s Birdman, gives a good performance as Walter “Robby” Robinson. Keaton, like the other actors, holds back emotion and portrays his character with subtlety and determination. Mark Ruffalo, who takes a break from playing Bruce Banner/Hulk, plays Michael Rezendes with fierce determination and curiosity. He arguably gives the best performance in the film. McAdams, one of the underrated actresses in Hollywood, plays against the romantic lead-type to play the lovely, intelligent Sacha Pfeiffer. This role called for McAdams to act among world-renowned actors Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, and she proves that she’s just as good as them. D’ Arcy James plays the family man Matt Carroll. He receives less screen time, but delivers a solid performance anyway. Other actors Liev Schrieber and Stanley Tucci also play their roles well, respectively.
Overall, Spotlight is an entertaining investigative journalism film filled with engaging drama, buoyed by great performances from the entire cast.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
- First image: Netflixlife.com
- Second image: lwp.georgetown.edu