Through outstanding performances by a cast that boasts no real lead, Spotlight brings the grim foreshowing of one of the biggest news stories in American history. Boston was rocked by a sexual abuse scandal that was hidden by everyone who knew when it came to the Catholic church hiding the molestation of young boys and girls through the churches across the United States, but one group of men and women fought day and night to uncover the truth about what was really going on with these cases, and together, they opened a Pandora’s box of truths people never thought they’d want to hear.
The film wastes no time thrusting us into the world of the Boston Globe and their fights for the truth. Putting the atrocities caused by a corrupt clergy in the spotlight (pun intended), you gear up for what is soon to be one of the best newsroom dramas in recent memory. Shown through iconic shots of Boston with a common theme of one shot directing, it keeps you engaged through endlessly focused dialogue and mystery. For stints of the film, you wonder whether or not you want it to end simply because of all the intriguing tidbits of information they organically feed us to help the story along.
It’s the characters themselves that truly carry the film along. With no definitive leads you can think of, though you can argue Mark Ruffalo or Michael Keaton, every actor and actress handled their roles with class and emotional gravitas that made the movie what it was. Ruffalo has to be a shoe in for Best-Supporting Actor at this years Oscars after his performance. It’s his sides of the story that keep us wanting more and it’s his passionate character development we fall in love with. He’s been a standout in nearly every film he’s shown up in and he repeats this yet again. Others who stand out beyond the pack are the monotone Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci, both actors who deserve all the credit in the world for being scene stealers in the supporting roles rather than constant lead men.
The respect the writer and directors give to the victims and the crew that is Spotlight is astounding and should be recognized. Some films can go off the deep end with their treatment of sensitive subjects, but instead of going into a more hyper-realism, it called for a more subtle realism that doesn’t mainly focus on the unforgivable acts of these priests, but rather how a group of men and women came together to unveil the truth. You can tell this journalism team went through all the detective work to bring to light the truth and we as an audience were easily brought into that world.
This is not a film genre we get to see often in cinema because of the difficulty of pulling off so much constant dialogue and little action, but around Oscar season, these are where these films get to flourish and take us (the audience) into a world that is very much ours. No superheroes or monsters or violent crime dramas here, just a group of human beings working for a newspaper in Boston that wanted to do something right for their city and the victims effected.
Credit has to go to the screenplay and the director for treating the material with respect while also delivering a thrilling and enjoying drama. You come for the story and stay because of the performances while being a visually pleasant film with a lot to say . That Aaron Sorkin style of walk and talk with the quick jabs and verbal punches in between all make sense for a story of this genre. The subject matter is something that invokes rage and disgust, but still manages to pull us back into what is a great newsroom drama that masquerades at a mystery film. It’s one of the best of the year, so far, and I’d be shocked if it doesn’t get proper recognition at this years Oscars.