Spotlight: A film released in January, winner of Best Picture at the Oscars in February and I finally get to watch it in December; what have I been doing all year?
This has been on my ones-to-watch list for some time now. When discussing my top three films of the year on TV in the summer the presenter of the show had this film as his number one. Having been invited back to do my top ten films of the year, I had the perfect excuse to dig out Spotlight as I assumed it would still feature highly in my esteemed colleague’s top ten…
…I didn’t expect it to gate-crash my top three!
Written and directed by Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight” is a small team of journalists who spend months investigating the big stories for The Boston Globe. When new Editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) joins the paper, he instructs the team to investigate a lawyer’s claim that a Cardinal was aware of a local priest sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him. Little does the Spotlight team realise that what they are about to uncover is systemic abuse within the Roman Catholic Church on a global scale.
I thought Room was the best example of how to tell an interesting story with aplomb on the big screen, but Spotlight is easily on a par. You won’t find any whizz, pops and fizzles in the direction or the photography, or any scene-chewing from a cast who put in subtle, faultless performances. This is just well-scripted, expertly-edited, perfectly-paced story-telling at its finest. I have no experience of journalism or the environments that journalists work in but this felt like a realistic interpretation. If it wasn’t for some very famous faces in the lead roles I could have been fooled into thinking that this was a fly-on-the-wall documentary! It is an exemplary way to tell such a controversial true story and the cast and crew deserve the recognition they received for creating such a fine piece of cinema.
I have briefly mentioned the performances and it feels harsh to single individual cast members out, but Liev Schreiber’s portrayal of Marty Baron is a masterclass in understatement and Mark Ruffalo gives an impassioned performance as Michael Rezendes, fighting his way through bureaucracy to bring these despicable priests to justice.
So perfect is this film that I have run out of sufficient superlatives to describe it and find myself writing a much shorter review! The quicker you read this though the quicker you can watch this masterpiece of story-telling.