Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie with Abe: Spotlight

Directed by Tom McCarthy
Released November 6, 2015

The news industry has changed so much over the last two decades, and there may be no more effective way to demonstrate that than to show how a story was researched and reported as recently as 2002. The mere existence of a newspaper team tasked with culling together months of background, interviews, and confirmations feels like an impossible dream in today’s age of citizen journalism and instant online verification. Cell phones and the Internet already exist in “Spotlight,” but they don’t rule the old-fashioned news investigation that comprises one of the most well put-together and invigorating cinematic stories of journalism in a long time.

The Boston Globe is a hometown newspaper with an overwhelming Catholic subscriber base and season tickets for its staff members to Red Sox games, among other local ties. The arrival of an outsider editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), prompts a new focus for the four-person Spotlight team tasked with thorough projects, one of which might last months or a year: Catholic priests who have repeatedly abused children and whose actions have prompted no legitimate response from the Church and who have even been placed back into circulation after their unforgivable misdeeds. This investigation is a deep and intense one, with so many confirmations along the way that it seems impossible that it has not come to light sooner.

One of the best facets of “Spotlight” is the way in which it delivers damning and shocking information that comes as a surprise to its reporters. Much of it has to do with the reactions of the dogged journalists, but there is also an appropriately sensational presentation that amplifies the effect of these bombshells. Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) all believe strongly in the impact of what they are doing, and they want to bring the truth to light, no matter the cost to Boston institutions or the way in which they might be personally villainized. Nothing is overstated, and a haunting score from Howard Shore just does the trick in properly emphasizing the significance of what they are doing.

This is a film where all elements are firing on all cylinders. McCarthy, who previously directed “The Station Agent” and “Win Win,” does an excellent job of managing a large cast and allowing each member to play into the story in just the right way. Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup, John Slattery, and Jamey Sheridan are particularly strong contributors in addition to the starring five previously mentioned. This is an extremely solid film driven by true events and told in just the right way, building to an emotional and superbly effective finale that only extends its impact.


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