Spotlight Film Review

Film Review by Jarred Tito

The Premise
When the Boston Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.

The Review
A fantastic piece of investigative story telling of a true invent. If you were around when the popular TV show, 'The Paper Chase' (a series set around a popular student investigation newspaper) then you'd remember what it was like to enjoy a good story breaking from a journalist's perspective.

Co-writer and director Tom McCarthy, have created a suspenseful, piece by piece, moral thriller. He skillfully uses the acting talents of Oscar nominated Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery from Madmen and Mark Ruffalo from The Avengers to perfectly stitch together a thoughtful and detailed true account of how the Catholic Church unsuccessfully tried to cover up a major scandal involving priests sexually molesting children under their care.
In 2002, around the same time as the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York, this story began to pick up momentum but due the world's attention to the events of 9/11 and the subsequent events that followed this story about the immoral behaviour of certain priests, took a back seat to the world trade center catastrophe. Upon reflection a more cynical person might have suggested that the Catholic church may have welcomed the distraction of terrorism even if it was only for six months. Ultimately, as history reveals, the story does break and when it did it was huge. 
Liev Schreiber, who you might recall as playing Hugh Jackman's evil brother in Wolverine, shows another side to his skill as an actor. He is cast in the role of Marty Baron, the new editor for Boston's leading newspaper the Globe, and is key to the whole newspaper investigation getting underway. In this role he plays this very calm and peaceful yet thorough editor from New York who is both endearing and forceful.

A very pleasing performance from Schreiber which really gave me a glimpse of his potential as a serious actor.  Initially Baron is met with resistance from the established and well-oiled team of reporters who believe he is here only to promote his ego until Walter Robinson 'Robby' played by Oscar nominated actor Michael Keaton who heads up the elite investigative reporting team 'Spotlight', begins to take interest in the story and wants to run with it. From here on in the Spotlight team fully engage themselves into uncovering as much of the story that they possibly can and are met with strong opposition from just about every angle from government officials to your average blue collar workers. We begin to see the devastating effects the offending priests had on so many people and we also see how deeply protective the community, both local and wider, are of their beloved Church and Priests.  ​​

The Verdict
Spotlight is a masterful work of thoughtful plots, well-paced suspense and drama that is based around actual events. I was taken in by the subject matter and scandal which of course is still a very sensitive topic today. The viewing is at times disturbing. Not from visual perspective but from a moral one especially if you are from a catholic background.

Spotlight is a serious film which can be appreciated for its theatrical achievements as well as its story line which is gripping. A well-made film that will get you thinking. ​

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 28th January 2016
Rating: M – Contains Offensive language & content that may disturb
Duration: 129 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton
Director: Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler, Win Win)

The Extras
When Michael Keaton accepted the role, he had tracked the real Walter Robinson before meeting him and lived near Robinson's house without him knowing. He also gotten hold of video and audio of Robinson. When Michael Keaton first met him he did an impression of him that Walter Robinson was so scared and said to him how did you know everything about me, we just met?

The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2013 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.

The real Walter Robinson said: "My persona has been hijacked. If Michael Keaton robbed a bank, the police would quickly have me in handcuffs".

Tom McCarthy cited multiple films as influence on this project: Frost/Nixon (2008), Broadcast News (1987), Network (1976), All the President's Men (1976), The Killing Fields (1984), The Insider (1999), Citizen Kane (1941), Ace in the Hole (1951), JFK (1991) , The Verdict (1982), and Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005), in which McCarthy had a small role.

During every break, Mark Ruffalo asked the real Michael Rezendes to say his lines for him.

During an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air", director Tom McCarthy said that they built a large set to depict many of the Boston Globe offices where parts of the story takes place. When the reporters depicted in the movie first visited the set, they gravitated to the desks where they had been sitting during the writing of the "Spotlight" piece, and many of them started to re-arrange the items on their desks to the they had been at the time.

The real Walter Robinson said on Michael Keaton "It is like watching yourself in a mirror, yet having no control of the mirror image."