TEAM: From left, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James pictured on the set of the movie Spotlight.
TEAM: From left, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James pictured on the set of the movie Spotlight. Kerry Hayes

Review: Spotlight on a sad story and its heroes

Spotlight

  • Stars: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber.
  • Director: Tom McCarthy
  • Rating: M
  • Reviewer: Jim Alouat
  • Verdict: 4/5

FILMS based on journalism usually focus on the romanticised, glamorous and sometimes dangerous life a career in the fourth estate can offer.

Not Spotlight.

It tells the harrowing true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that exposed the Catholic Church's cover-up of pedophile priests.

The grim, sad stories rocked the church, Boston and then the world back in 2002.

The title comes from the four-person team that drives the investigation and with whom the film spends most of its time.

This team includes Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James).

Each character is a vital cog in the investigation and each actor plays an important role in the ensemble cast.

What kick-starts the investigation is the arrival of new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber).

Baron is an outsider who backs the team to pursue the truth no matter what the cost. He can see the city is in denial over the scope of the scandal. He can also see the power the Catholic Church has on the city and even his own staff.

For about eight months the team meticulously digs through the Boston archdiocese and the role it played in the cover-up.

The film is not sexy or sensationalist despite the material and it doesn't need to be

There is no grandstanding, motivational speeches or Oscar bait moments.

Instead it is a detailed procedural examining the human impact of the rape of young children. What does that do to a community which looks upon the church with such reverence?

Directed by Tom McCarthy from a script he co-wrote with Josh Singer, McCarthy designs a well-crafted film that isn't flashy.

It's understated much like its cast who all deliver their lines with delicate precision.

Rounding out the cast are John Slattery and Stanley Tucci, two actors known for over-the-top performances, who scale it back to serve the story.

This muted tone may not be for everyone but it's an important film, which relies on the strength of its narrative to pack a powerful punch.

Spotlight opens nationally on Thursday.



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