"Spotlight" makes you long for the days of real investigative journalism, when reporters got their facts straight, and exposes were only written when they could be corroborated. The Boston Globe's team of reporters, known as "Spotlight", spent the year 2001 uncovering the truths behind one of the biggest scandals to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
Beginning in January 2002, the Boston Globe ran a series of almost 300 stories over four months detailing the sexual abuse of children at the hands of multiple priests, and all protected by the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard F. Law (Len Cariou, better known as Henry Reagan, Tom Selleck's father on TV's "Blue Bloods").
The Spotlight Team comprised of Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) was encouraged by the new Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) to follow this breaking scandal and uncover the real story behind the outpouring of allegations. "Spotlight" provides a riveting timeline to this earth-shattering revelation.
This ensemble of actors is exceptional. Keaton is even better here than he was in last year's Oscar-nominated role in "Birdman". As the leader of this driven group of reporters, Robby must maintain his objectivity while trying to rein in his eager staff. Keaton is strong as the buffer between his writers and the owner Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery in a superb performance) and Baron.
Ruffalo continues to churn out Oscar-worthy performances. As the aggressive and undeterred Rezendes, he shines in a cast full of potential Academy Award nominees. Ruffalo is one of the best actors working in film, hands down.
McAdams and the rest of the cast, including Stanley Tucci, are exemplary. This is a difficult story based on a deplorable scandal within the Catholic Church. Directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy, who has written and directed some of my favorite films, such as "The Station Agent", "The Visitor" and "Win Win", "Spotlight" will be on many critics' lists of Top 10 films of 2015.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
"Spotlight" is yet another 2015 film based on real-life events, and it doesn't disappoint. Its extraordinary cast keeps us riveted to the screen in an authentic portrayal of investigative journalism involving the highly charged subject matter of pedophilia within the Catholic Church.
The movie is an exciting dramatic complement to the fascinating documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" (2013). That film chronicled child sexual abuse by a priest in Los Angeles who was continuously shuffled from one archdiocese to another in a blatant cover-up by the church.
By contrast, "Spotlight" follows an intrepid group of Boston Globe journalists who, in a year-long investigation in 2001, uncover a string of abuses in the Archdiocese of Boston, leading to a massive expose that gained worldwide attention. The group was eventually awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts.
Writer/director Tom McCarthy has nailed what it's like to be at the forefront of a major news story. His resume as director is not long, but is quite impressive.
Loaded with comic relief, "Spotlight" is not all zealous gravitas.
McCarthy and his veteran cast have their lighter moments, a good thing given the nature of their investigation. Each cast member has his or her own turn at glory in the script, the most explosive by top-billed Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes. As the lead reporter of "Spotlight", an offshoot of the newspaper, he disagrees vehemently with his editor, Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), on the time release strategy of their blockbuster expose.
Rarely does such a frenetic search for the truth feel so laborious. But our reward is the stellar ensemble performances, and not only by the celebrity cast which also includes Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Supporting roles include a gay man victimized by the abuse, and a married father whose bitterness is devastating, which are gripping confirmations of the sins of the church.
Billy Crudup plays a smarmy attorney who represents what Keaton's character calls a primary component of the local cottage industry of settling abuse cases outside the courtroom. Lawyers get rich, victims are compensated, the public is unaware, and the church sweeps it under the rug. Everybody wins.
When the Spotlight Team first discovers victims of abuse via painstaking research and often painful interviews, leading to the obvious guilt of Father John Geoghan, they are eager to run with the story. But incoming editor Marty Baron (Schreiber), the voice of reason, convinces his reporters to focus on the systemic reach of the case, which implicates Boston's Cardinal Law (Len Cariou). If they do that, everything else will fall into place. And does it ever.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!