Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Movie Review #340: "Spotlight" (2015)

Director: Tom McCarthy
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
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In 2001, the Boston Globe's Spotlight team, consisting of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James), looks into child molestation allegations within the Catholic church spanning as far back as the 1970's.

Started from "The Cobbler," now director Tom McCarthy's here.

"Spotlight" is an impactful, powerful drama that shows what it used to mean to be an investigative journalist in this country. When the Boston Globe newspaper gets a new editor named Marty Baron, played by Liev Schreiber, he assigns the Spotlight team, who specialize in investigative journalism, to look into several local civil lawsuits against a Catholic priest, whom many now-adult victims claim molested them when they were children. The team is lead by Spotlight editor Walter 'Robby' Robinson, played expertly by Michael Keaton. Robby and his team, made up of three journalists named Mike Rezendes, played by Mark Ruffalo, Sacha Pfeiffer, played by Rachel McAdams, and Matt Carroll, played by Brian d'Arcy James, begin to look deep into the case and start to find out these lawsuits go well beyond just one priest and may even lead up as high as the Vatican. Since these abuses and molestations took place in Boston, an extremely prominent Catholic town where Catholicism and daily life go hand in hand, many devout Catholics, even those in very high places, often didn't want to know about what was going on in the church itself, especially if it could shake their faith. The more people the team interview and the deeper their research takes them, the higher this scandal seems to go as it looks like the church knew about priests molesting children and did their best to cover it up for several decades. Instead of relieving the guilty priests of their godly duties, the offending priests would simply be moved from parish to parish, allowing more and more kids to be exposed to harm in the process. Though the Boston Globe was not the first paper to look into the molestation accusations against the Catholic church, they were able to apply resources and painstaking time into the investigation which some smaller papers could not. They were able to really shine a light on the controversy and show how widespread the problem truly was, triple checking facts and talking to actual witnesses and those involved instead of merely speculating or taking findings at face value.

Obviously, "Spotlight" deals with the dirty, seedy, depressing, and shocking reality of both the Catholic church and the abuse of children at the hands of priests within the Catholic church. It would only be a normal reaction to be emotional about a story such as this, and at times, BigJ and I felt both angry and sad, enraged and heartbroken, and I even broke down in full-fledged tears twice. This subject matter will be difficult to digest for some moviegoers and even the hardest of hardened souls will writhe in discomfort. If, like us, you can see past the harsh actualities this story exposes, what you'll find is a flawlessly executed, remarkable, brilliantly crafted piece of art. Though the outcome of the Spotlight team's research has been known for over a decade, it doesn't lessen the impact of it all to watch it being played out on screen. The writing is sharp, the editing rather flawless, and after seeing it unfold in a starkly dramatic yet painfully honest manner, it's hard to believe the person who made this film also made "The Cobbler." There are some instances when McCarthy frames his shot so well, it truly gave me chills and reminded me why I love the movies so, so much. For example, there is one scene in particular were Rachel McAdams's character is questioning a victim about their abuse on their second floor apartment balcony. The shot pans out to reveal a massive Catholic church right behind it, complete with ringing church bells. Talk about symbolism!! Additionally, both Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo give commanding performances worthy of awards and accolades for years to come. Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Brian d'Arcy James give more subdued performances, but are all just as excellent and worthy of praise.

In the end, we hope "Spotlight" will be a huge hit come Oscar season next year, and deservedly so. This is a fantastic film, even though its subject matter is a hard pill to swallow. It never feels the need to be showy, rarely fudging facts or dramatizing events, favoring the truth and honesty instead because the story itself is so dramatically fantastical and unbelievable that it doesn't need embellishment. Sublimely acted, perfectly directed, excellently written, and elongated for a purpose, this is definitely one of the best films of 2015, and mark our words, eventually, this movie will be on a list as one of the best movies ever made about journalism, right up there with "All the President's Men." We have gone to 340 movies in the theater over the past 3 years, and only one other time in this movie going history can we recall the audience fervently clapping like they did as the credits rolled on "Spotlight."

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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