RATED - (R) -128-MIN-2015
“ Once again…power corrupts, and Spotlight tells another riveting sad story of it.”
Growing up Catholic just outside of Boston, I was very interested in seeing the new movie (Spotlight) about the sexual abuse scandal with priests that came to a head in early 2002, which rocked Boston, and then the world. To be frank…. the whole celibate, messengers of God thing, creeped me out big time as a child, and when this story hit, it didn’t surprise me one bit. As the film shows, it not only hid abuse, it created it, with it’s ridiculous rules. I guess Sinead O’Connor was right after all. Don’t kid yourself for one second... this just isn’t about just priests doing bad things.
Echoing the great film about Watergate: (All The Presidents Men), Spotlight is a newspaper drama, based on real events, about the people who slowly uncover, through diligent investigation, a terrible secret hidden from the public. The fact that we know the outcome, doesn’t lessen the truly unforgivable crimes that were committed, for who only knows how long, and covered up. It sure as hell did take a village.
The Spotlight crew, was an investigative wing of the biggest newspaper in Boston at the time: The Boston Globe. They dug deep to tell stories of misconduct and corruption in the city. Needless to say, as in any big city, they were very busy. There is a shakeup of sorts at the Globe, and the new boss: Marty Baron (Liev Schrieber) a soft spoken and focused man, who is a complete outsider from a Miami newspaper, is about to arrive in town. Once there, he will evaluate the entire staff, and Spotlight worries it might be phased out. Actually, all of the employees are worried; new boss…new cuts. He has that reputation.
The Spotlight crew consists of: managing editor: Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), and under him, overseeing spotlight, is editor: Robby Stewart (Michael Keaton), with reporters: Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachael McAdams).
All of these reporters are from Boston, or have been here for a long time. They know the people, the politicians, and the city. When Marty asks Robby to meet him at a restaurant, Robby worries more about his team. What is this “outsider going to do?” Marty tells Robby that he is reading (Curse of the Bambino) not because he likes baseball; it’s so he can get a feel for the city.
Robby gets more concerned.
The next day, at the staff meeting, Marty asks if anyone has done any follow up to the case of Father Geoghan that ran in the Globe. Geoghan was reported to be sexually abusing children for years, as the church kept moving him, knowing full well he would do it again in the next parish. Marty wants to know why there wasn’t a investigation into this, and now wants Spotlight to focus on this as its next story. He finds it very suspicious that the documents have been sealed in the case, and he wants the Globe to sue the church for their release. He also wants them to go and talk to the plaintiff’s lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (the always wonderful Stanley Tucci ),to see if they will let Spotlight talk to his clients.
The heart of the film involves, this small group of reporters, diligently following leads, getting past victims to speak again, on the record, and running into walls with the giant powerful and political machine that was the Catholic church in Boston.
There is a lot of talk about how insular Boston is, and how they take care of their own. This doesn’t deter Marty, who believes his outsider view, gives him fresh eyes into seeing what others either did not, or chose to disregard. Cardinal Law is never shown, but his presence, and truly, the system itself, casts a gloomy cloud over this film. It feels like evil, because it was. As our characters dig deeper, and their eyes start to open up more, then, they truly get a sense of how big this story could be.
When Michael goes and talks to a very hyper and busy Garabedian, he tells the reporter that the sealed documents will prove that Law knew about the whole thing, and possibly this mandate of moving priests, goes all the way to the top. Robby, who went to catholic school right across from Globe, has some soul searching as this investigation goes on, and friends of his, loyal to the church, try and dissuade him for bucking an institution that does so much good for the city. At one point, an aide to Law, tells Robby over drinks, that they shouldn’t make such a big thing about a few bad apples.
Meanwhile, Sacha, who goes to church regularly with her very devote Catholic grandmother, starts to interview people and her faith on those she held in such high regard, starts to waiver also. When she finds a former priest who was on the list of pedophiles, and speaks to him at his front door, she is horrified by what this creepy old man tells her, until his sister intervenes. You will want to wash after you see this scene.
When Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), the third reporter for Spotlight, notices that there seems to be a pattern of vague reasons that priests who had been accused of abuse, were given leave and then designated to another parish, in the yearly Massachusetts Archdiocese directory, they realize the number of priests, could be twenty times more than they thought it was.
The cast, from top to bottom is truly excellent. I wouldn’t say one really stood out for me, as they are all fairly understated, and they do what they need to move the film, and honor the story. I will point out that my favorites were Schreiber as Marty Baron and Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes.This is an important, and sad true story, that was made into a very good and entertaining film, and I strongly recommended you see this movie.
This is one of the best films I have seen this year.
P.S. Cardinal Law confirmed me as a young teenager (one of the 7 sacraments in the catholic church), and I found him anything but friendly or comforting…..just saying.
watch the trailer: