Shining light on abuse
SPOTLIGHT ( M)
Director: Thomas McCarthy ( Win Win) Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci. Verdict: Some kept hoping, while others kept preying
BOTH a cry from the heart for victims of sexual abuse and a vivid reminder of the fading art of investigative journalism, Spotlight is deservedly one of the front- runners for the next Best Picture Oscar.
Superbly acted and scripted, this powerful factual drama tells the true story of The Boston Globe’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize- winning expose of systematic molestation of the young by Catholic priests.
The end result was a series of revelations which shocked America to its core, and forever altered the public perception of the Catholic Church. Many of the Globe’s key findings have since been echoed in disturbingly similar scenarios all over the world, including right here in Australia.
The movie takes its title from the name of the Globe’s famous team of longform investigative scribes, a small unit headed at the time by section editor Walter ‘ Robby’ Robinson ( Michael Keaton).
His three reporters – Sacha Pfeiffer ( Rachel McAdams), Mike Rezendes ( Mark Ruffalo) and Matt Carroll ( Brian d’Arcy James) – initially take on the controversial assignment under sufferance.
It is a huge job, and a wearing one, too: all of the Spotlight team were born and raised as Boston Catholics. In this part of the world, that’s not just a religious affiliation, it is a tribal marking.
As the journos begin pursuing any and all leads they can, Robinson and Baron initially estimate there could be half a dozen priests involved in the scandal. The number soon doubles, and continues to rise alarmingly.
By the time the Globe is ready to go to print, the Spotlight team amass evidence of more than 90 active priests having preyed upon the youth of Boston at some point in their careers. Even more gallingly, the Globe discovers a complex web of collusion between the Church, the local judicial system and prominent Catholic citizens of Boston.
While the subject matter of Spotlight could be construed as confronting by some potential viewers, be assured that the excellence of its ensemble cast – as well as the purity of intent of its scripting and direction - makes this movie a vital experience throughout.
One of the key factors that raises Spotlight to such a rare level is that director Tom McCarthy never lets us forget who the real heroes are here.
It is not the journalists of the Spotlight team. It is those victims who kept telling their stories over and over for many years, in the hope that someone one day might listen, believe and act upon their words.