Going After The System
Stars: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy, Jamey Sheridan, Billy Crudup and Gene Amoroso
Director: Tom McCarthy
Scriptwriters: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Composer: Howard Shore
Open Road Films
Rating: R for themed material
Running Length: 128 minutes
"Spotlight" not only is the name of this film, but the name of the special group of investigative reporters from the Boston Globe who took on expose stories..and..is what happens when this particular story about sex abuse within the Boston Catholic Church is researched and published in 2002. The spotlight is unforgiving and shines on everyone, from the Church to the reporters. No place to hide.
When lawsuits begin to be filed against the Boston Catholic Church, and these lawsuits start to get attention to the point that a newspaper may be interested, the momentum begins. This is the start of the film and Spotlight reporters are Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy), Stephen Kurkjian (Gene Amoroso) and under the direction of Spotlight group leader, Walter "Robby" Robinson, (Michael Keaton.) Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) is the attorney for some of the people bringing law suits. Spotlight begins to slowly investigate, and the Boston Globe has a new editor, a man from the Jewish religion, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber.) He gives the go-ahead for a full investigation, thoughtfully and studying all sides of the situation. This not only reveals the cover-up of priests and their involvement with children and young adults, but keeping the priests within the church, only transferring them from congregation to congregation. Wow, what to do and how to present this to the public in a city that is predominantly Catholic. Not only that, but the newspaper, itself, had some of the information for years and it sat in a back file. The broom that sweeps clean, also sweeps both ways. The word "blame" goes in all directions.
This film could have been a hand-wringer, and instead it is a study of gathering information on a powerful story, working together as a team and how and when to present it with impact and yet without splashing it about. There are people who want to talk about their experiences, those who don't, those who are found out to have kept quiet for personal gain, or out of fear. What is supposed to strengthen and help has turned into harm. The good has been turned into the bad and the moneychangers are still in the temple. When the word is given to run the story, you know Boston---and the rest of the country and world---will not be the same again.
For acting, Michael Keaton is a quietly directing editor and works well with his team. They are parts of a whole. Liev Schreiber, as the new editor, doesn't hesitate to take on this enormous story and remain quietly expressionless, which is effective here. Mark Ruffalo, as Rezendes, is the loud, fiery reporter who speaks first and thinks later. Rachel McAdams falls into the background among the guys. Jamey Sheridan as an attorney for the church, steals his scenes when you see his conflict on these issues. Right and wrong and right and wrong and what is he to do? This may be another newspaper film but the story matter is first-rate and it actually is centuries old.
The audience sees the beginning of research here, from the hesitancy to begin, and then as more information comes forth, when to present this and who will talk. The Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for these articles. I remember when they began to appear in newspapers. and then church boards began to have guidelines. "Spotlight" was ground-breaking and now the film shows us how it was done.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner