Spotlight, directed by Thomas McCarthy, is the true story that depicts the investigative news team at the Boston Globe as it uncovers the systemic ‘sweeping under the rug’ of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church (specifically the Archdiocese of Boston).
The screenwriting of McCarthy and Josh Singer is key. It easily balances the research and interview processes while delving into the work that each of the reporters did. Anyone who has ever been present in or worked in a newsroom will certainly appreciate the realism that was translated from script to screen by McCarthy and Singer; being a journalism graduate, I know I really did! It really showed the news world in its true form- it can be gritty, it can be hard, you won’t always like your colleagues and will have arguments, but you do what you have to do in order to get the story right.
Newly appointed Boston Globe editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) encourages the investigative branch, Spotlight, to take on the Catholic Church – one of the most influential and powerful entities in Boston. Many of his colleagues think he is crazy for trying to tackle the church, believing that many of the readers will see it as an attack on themselves since the newspaper’s readership is a Catholic majority.
Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) are the Boston Globe Reporters charged to take on this huge task. As part of the investigative unit helmed by their team editor, Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), they uncover the horrible truths, vast cover-ups and lies within the Catholic Church in the wake of the sex abuse scandal. Through the Spotlight team’s hard work and determination, they realize the abuse and deceit doesn’t just start and stop in Boston- it stretches all the way up to the Vatican itself.
However, I will say that after watching the film, the uneasiness I felt in my stomach made it feel like it was swinging pendulously back and forth.
Think about it – there are 1.2 billion people in the world who practise the Catholic faith and being a Catholic (albeit a lapsed one) myself, and having attended Catholic school from kindergarten all the way up to grade 12 – it made me wonder if any of my teachers, classmates or any students after I had been victims of such abuse at any point in their lives, or knew someone that had been abused. With that many Catholic children in the world and the number of Catholic priests, I think it’s safe to assume that there is someone at the local parish who has been abused or knows someone who has been, and it’s a truly disturbing thought.
Sexual abuse is never an easy topic to talk about, write about or make an entire movie about, especially when you know you are about to go against one of the most powerful organizations (religious or otherwise) in the world.
But, it was a story that needed to be told and the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe did just that and I for one am glad they had the determination and commitment to see the story through to the end, giving a voice and hope to the hundreds of survivors affected, and opening the door for fellow journalists throughout the world to tackle the Vatican head-on.
With a wonderful script, awesome directing and great acting, Spotlight was definitely in the top five movies I saw this year at TIFF, and one of the best movies I have ever seen period. It would not surprise me if it is nominated in the best film, best acting, best screenplay and best directing categories when awards season arrives (and it would be well deserved).
Please check be sure to watch Spotlight if you get the chance, it’s well worth it!
Please note: Spotlight was a runner-up for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival.