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Brilliant depiction of journalism


Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Live Schreiber

Director: Tom McCarthy

Producer:  Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Michael Sugar


Based on the investigation of the infamous scandals caused by the cases of widespread and systematic sexual abuse committed by the Catholic archdiocese of Boston, ‘Spotlight’ is a film grounded in reality and painstakingly researched in minute details. It boasts of stellar performances and an intriguing story, throwing light on some of the greatest crimes committed by the Church over the years. It is brilliant in the depiction of analytical journalism and of the deep rot that has permeated and tainted the society created by men who claim to be the messengers of God.

The film follows The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the actual Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. In 2001, The Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron. Baron comes from Florida and is a complete outsider in the ‘small townish’ Boston. After Baron reads a Globe column about a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, accusing Cardinal Law (the Archbishop of Boston) of knowing that a priest was sexually abusing children and doing nothing to stop him, he urges the Spotlight team to investigate. As the team notch their investigations a gear up, we come to know that it is not a case of only one priest but a widespread problem. 

We all know what the story is, we all know what happened but what Tom McCarthy does very successfully is that he manages to keep the audience hooked, completely in loop with the journalists themselves. The kind of closed room, stuffy feel which Takayanagi as the cinematographer gives is one of the main reasons for the audience to feel hooked to the story; almost as if they were there. The screenplay by McCarthy and Josh Singer is the real hero in this movie. Devoid of swashbuckling, quotable dialogues and monologues, the screenplay is what defines Spotlight’s reality. Hans Zimmer’s score although good, feels a little too loud or a tad forced in places. 

Showing perhaps the darkest side of human nature, ‘Spotlight’ unflinchingly handles a very sensitive topic, bringing out the appalling and the monstrous nature of crimes being committed, showing people’s lack of reaction, as well as the Church’s extreme, aggressive cover-ups in order to preserve its reputation. The involvement of lawyers who played their parts in stifling the voices of the hapless victims is shown clearly too.

The enthralling moments in the film are the scenes showing the breakdown of the victims as they relive the moments when they were molested and abused. The scene perhaps shows the heights of perversity to which this practice had reached where a former priest, on being questioned, insists that his actions never culminated in rapes. Possibly the greatest strength of the film lies in the honesty of its approach – the candidness of storytelling and the simplicity with which such complicated, convoluted malaise is shown on the screen.

Spotlight is a true blue ensemble movie. Each of the characters comes with their own plus and minuses, idiosyncrasies and problems. The actors are naturals at depicting their roles-Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo give spectacular performances on screen, each playing his role to perfection. Mike Ruffalo’s character as the slouching, hard-working journalist Michael Rezendes is a sight to watch. So does Michael Keaton in the role of Robby Robinson, as the editor of the team and the head of the investigation. Supporting cast members Rachel McAdams and Liv Schreiber too delivered wonderful performances.

In the concluding part of the film, all one is left with is the foreboding sense of having uncovered not only a can of nauseating worms but also of the realisation that such shocking revelations are simply the tip of an iceberg. Many more voices are yet to be heard, many others have been stifled and crushed forever. Recipient of the Best Picture award at the 88th Academy awards, this film is a must watch, simply for the light it sheds on the corruption afflicting humanity.

Debanjan Guha, Class XI, Bishop Morrow School. Udipto Koushik Sarmah, Class XI, Julien Day School, Kolkata (Coordinators)