As a journalist, Spotlight is inspirational. For a non-journo, I suspect it is just as fascinating and perhaps scarier as they can see how hard it can be to tell such an important truth.
The film follows the Boston Globe’s investigative team of four, Spotlight, during 2001 as they are assigned a new story by the paper’s incoming editor, a hard-lined Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). That story is the Catholic Church’s decades-long systematic cover-up of child abuse by priests in Boston.
They start thinking small, just a handful of priests, but each new discovery is a shock, even knowing what we know today. This means that despite the fairly static, small-scale nature of the film, the emotional twists and turns are riveting. It is impossible not to be swept along in the disgust and outrage felt by the characters.
The ensemble won Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this weekend and it must be the most thoroughly deserved win out there.
Ruffalo in particular was just utterly intense, passionate and almost scary at times as his character, Mike Rezendes, betrays how much he cares about this story (while running between courthouse to courthouse, to and from the office, up and down stairs… This man never stops running).
Meanwhile Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams make an absolutely formidable team questioning dodgy lawyers and almost acting good cop bad cop, and both are scene-stealers at times. McAdams is especially wonderful interviewing victims and making them feel at ease- then when she inadvertently doorsteps a priest, the initial shock and then realisation she has to make it count is perfect.
As a journalist I just enjoyed every scene with the reporters scribbling away and asking at times urgent, at times sensitive questions with a furrowed brow. At a time when much of the public has fallen out of love with the media (which is at least partially understandable, of course) it’s reassuring to have an ode to a truly worthy side of the industry.