Shin­ing light on abuse

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch


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.

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