Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is surely set for Academy Award success. Brilliantly simple and expertly paced, this is the cinematic interpretation of a true story. In 2001, the Boston Globe stood up to the power of the catholic church when a small team of investigative journalists looked into a number of child molestation cases carried out by the catholic clergy. Things gently and delicately unravel as the team face larger and darker realisations about the sheer volume of cases they’re actually facing. The cast are a tour de force in one of the most thrilling and impressive movies of the award season. McCarthy directs a stunning cast through an intense journey where new revelations maintain the movie’s monstrous memento. Spotlight is by no means a clear cut depiction of the church vs. the press. There are various individuals, friendships and professionals who come under the strain of a high-pressured investigation. Spotlight, outside of its central story, is a sensational study of complex, in-depth, intense journalism and what it really means to bring the truth to the masses. It’s a film about justice, deceit, secrecy and it’s all in all a fantastic achievement. The majority of Spotlight takes place in dim libraries, grey offices and on street corners. At times it feels as though the entire world is against ‘Team Spotlight’ and even when victims come forward and new information comes to light, things are never simple.
Watching Spotlight is like being a spectator at a really great tennis match. Your head twists back and forth throughout, attention returning to and departing from different individuals. What begins as a brief conflict with the church soon becomes a brutal battle to shift the power that the church holds over Boston. Michael Keaton, fresh from his triumphant return as the Birdman last year, leads the Spotlight team. Taking frustrating orders from above, its his job to direct his journalists down specific avenues. Meanwhile, his personal relationships come under scrutiny because of the sheer size and weight of their explorations. Keaton balances the passion his character has for his work with the strain it has upon him. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are equally suited and bring to the film the realistic sacrifices and tedious work load that comes with uncovering vast layers of secrets and scandals that were never intended to be found. As well as the slick dialogue which comes alive in the film’s numerous climaxes, there are also sleepless nights, neglected family time and half eaten lunches which is equally vital to the success of Spotlight. I found it an intoxicating experience to follow the narrative of Spotlight. We’re drip fed both the excitement of each new discovery and the frustration of each new set-back. Spotlight is brilliant cinema depicting brilliant journalism.
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