Rental Review - Spotlight

Spotlight (2015), R, 128 minutes - This film is based on actual events in which an investigative team from the Boston Globe (Spotlight) uncovered not just a child molestation scandal within the local Catholic church, but the scandal's cover up as well, both of which were much more widespread than originally feared.

Spotlight begins as newly-hired editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) is taking the reigns at the Globe. He directs the Spotlight team led by Walter 'Robby' Robinson (Micheal Keaton) towards a story about local lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) who claims that the Archbishop of Boston  Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) was aware of instances of priest John Geoghan sexually abusing children and doing nothing about it. The Spotlight team begins digging into the story, with Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) making contact with Garabedian while Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) attempting to contact victims. What they discover is appalling: exponential increases in the number of cases involved made even worse by the cover up within both the church and the justice system.

Director Tom McCarthy navigates the disturbing subject matter masterfully, depicting the story through the eyes of the Spotlight team and their investigative work.  Through them, he is able to illustrate the wide range of emotions caused by such a scandal.  Everything from violated, ashamed and embarrassed feelings of the victims, to the fear for one's children, to an outright crisis of faith.  The entire film is well made and acted, but the performances from McAdams and Ruffalo stand out, resulting in Oscar nominations in the Supporting Role categories this year for each.

Both the story and cover up are shocking in and of themselves, but as we learn how widespread the instances were, it becomes more unbelievable. Even as the film comes to a close, we're hit with one last gut-wrenching revelation: the Spotlight story (printed in 2002) led to the uncovering of similar scandals in 105 other U.S. cities, and another 101 cities around the globe.  This film definitely falls into the 'not for everyone' category due to the heavy subject matter, but at the same time it is a film that should be seen by as many eyes as possible.  This is easily one of the most impactful films that I have seen in recent years and I highly recommend it despite the uncomfortable content.


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