A Mesmerizing Piece of Cinema
When the credits started rolling the packed movie house was silent, except the mummers of shocked movie goers. I myself had a strange feeling in my throat and my stomach churning with knots and butterflies. Every year a few movies come along that aren’t just good movies but they are important movies. “Spotlight” is one of those movies. Todd McCarthy helms a story is riveting, thought provoking, sickening and horrifying (in the most sincere type of way). Retelling the true life story of the Boston Globe news teams uncovering a history of sexually abusive and pedophile activities in the Catholic Church and the cover up ensued, “Spotlight” is an outstanding piece of filmmaking that tells a complex story in a grounded fashion, keeping the realism of the event intact but gives each of the star studied cast a time to shine. This is some of the best cinema 2015 has to offer.
Taking the story completely from the perspective of the newspaper journalists that uncovered the truth behind the salacious actions, Josh Singer’s and Tom McCarthy’s script moves at a deliberate pace. The screenplay is calm and collected, making every moment count on screen, each scene building upon the last, not giving up it’s big moments till the very end. This is the mark of true craftsmanship. By doing this, keeping the pace slow (but not sluggish) the time amount of time passing give a sense of reality and it allows the characters (or in this time the real life people) develop along with it. Their journey starts not long into the picture and by the end it feels like we have gone a massive journey along with them (despite its surprisingly lean two hour runtime).
Director Tom McCarthy though never drags the movie. Him and his editing don’t waste the audiences time with nonessentials. McCarthy’s style will no doubt draw comparisons to the works of “All the President’s Men” but it stands on its own. As I’ve been alluding too, there isn’t much of a Hollywood feel to this. Despite the all star cast there is a sense of honesty to the dialogue, the direction, and the performances. This is all a credit to McCarthy’s direction. That direction draws you in as the audience and makes you feel like you’re right in the trenches with the characters. So much so that at points this feels like a perfect recreation of events in an documentary sort of fashion as oppose to a dramatization.
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James make up the crack investigative team in the Boston Globe. Keaton is much more subdued than last year’s Oscar nominated turn in “Birdman” as the editor of Spotlight, Walter ‘Robby” Robinson. But his more restrained demeanor works well within the bounds of this picture by also giving him some of the most poignant moments in the story. Ruffalo feels the most natural here as Mike Rezendes (the eventual writer of the massive Spotlight article) by showing off his dynamic acting ability. He has perhaps the most juiciest moments in the film in terms of spontaneity and dramatic heft.
Rachel McAdams brings in her tough and strong side from the most recent season of “True Detective”, but adds some warmth and humanity to her character. James meanwhile is an ever strong supporting acting that shines in the role that is required of him.
As the film progresses for our cast of characters, McCarthy does something unexpected; he doesn’t demonize or raise others on pedestal. Character we meet early on in the story may turn out to be completely different then what you’re expecting. McCarthy preys upon our expectations and delivers more complexities then shades of black and white. “Spotlight” challenges your own morality by not showing off the news reporters as heroes. These are people too, with their own backgrounds that are only hinted at but never gone into full detail; giving just enough to make them feels well rounded.
“Spotlight” shocks you without feeling the need to show anything gruesome. Throughout the film, you could hear audience members gasping as the story only grew bigger and bigger with each layer uncovered. The facts speak for themselves and not shying away from the words spoken by some of the victims creates an image in your head far worse than anything you can shown on screen.
As unsettling as it was for those whom followed the stories, “Spotlight” is still unsettling by bringing the story back to the forefront of the public conscious. I grew up in a Catholic house hold, which made the story especially hard hitting. “Spotlight” dares to make an impact and tell the story true and from the perspective of these group of reporters who uncovered it. I left the theater shocked, and enthralled by the impeccable direction of Todd McCarthy, the subdued but strong performances of the incredible cast and walked out speechless. “Spotlight” is a masterpiece of modern cinema and shows the positive journalism can bring about.