DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy LEAD CAST: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci SCREENWRITER: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer PRODUCER: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin & Michael Sugar EDITOR: Tom McArdle MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Howard Shore GENRE: Biographical Drama CINEMATOGRAPHER: Masanobu Takayanagi DISTRIBUTOR: Open Road Films LOCATION: United States RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs. 15 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V18
Spotlight is about the efforts of a team of crack journalists of The Boston Globe working on a story of sex abuse committed largely by clergymen of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. The story was kept hidden for so long by The Boston Globe itself despite the incriminating information provided by the lawyers and victims in the earlier years. To make up for such omission, the “spotlight” team—editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and reporters Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James)—is commissioned by the paper’s new chief, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) to reinvestigate the issue. After diligently gathering evidences and testimonies from people concerned including the victims themselves—and the team’s searing concern over the possible consequences of unearthing the truth—the Boston Globe publishes the story to a shocked public.
If only the Oscars had an award for Best Ensemble, Spotlight’s actors would romp away with it hands down. There are no villains, heroes, lead characters, or stars in Spotlight because the film’s spotlight is on the powerful material, which a power-packed cast has given justice to by their on-target performances. The Oscars’ Best Film for 2015 focuses the limelight on a newsroom crisis involving professional journalists—whose forte is in-depth investigation of local stories—played with such incredibly credible finesse by: Keaton as the even-keeled news editor, Ruffalo, McAdams and Carroll as bulldog reporters contributing their distinctive traits as meticulous fact-diggers in an American city that would rather look the other way in the face of a crackling and definitely damaging controversy.Spotlight’s dramatic tug of war is caused not by the perennial conflict between right and wrong, or good and evil, but from ethical and moral struggles experienced by the journalists who must decide what to do with the time bomb ticking away in their hands. Some viewers think Spotlight is a film no Catholic should see; some say it’s a film no Catholic should miss. CINEMA would hesitate to make such sweeping generalizations because whatever damage the expose can do to the image of the Catholic Church has been done by the actual media coverage of the real-life controversy in early 2002, to be exact. Spotlight is not an expose in itself but a close look into what went on inside the Boston Globe newsroom and at its editorial board meetings before the public disclosure that rocked the staunchly Catholic community of Boston. It is not about flaws in the priesthood; it is about a landmark moment in journalism. In fairness, CINEMA must say director Tom McCarthy handled the material with equal parts skill and respect. In the hands of an opportunistic filmmaker, the story could have been milked, molded, and marketed like any sensational tabloid material, but Spotlight instead treated the true story not only clinically and level-headedly but with empathy as well.