Reviewed by Mitch Burns
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian D’arcy James, Billy Crudup, and Stanley Tucci
Director Tom McCarthy has made some great films, mostly indie darlings such as Win Win, The Visitor and The Station Agent. Only one of those films has gained Oscar attention and that was for Richard Jenkins performance in The Visitor, but this very well may be the year McCarthy strikes Oscar gold. What might surprise you to know is that while Spotlight sits at a solid 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, his Adam Sandler comedy from earlier this year, The Cobbler sits at a sad 8%. Has there ever been a director with two films in the same year, one being one of the worst films of the year and the other being one of the best? I did watch The Cobbler… actually, I watched half an hour and walked away while my wife finished it, she said it was pretty bad, but she stuck it out, good for her.
Spotlight tells the story of a group of writers called The Spotlight Team working at The Boston Globe. The team works on stories that involve heavy amounts of investigative work and can take more than a year to reach print. The team is headed by Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) and includes Mike (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha (Rachel McAdams), and Matt (Brian D’arcy James).
The Boston Globe hires a new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schrieber), who comes in just around the time as a story about a pedophile priest named John Geoghan is being published. The Cardinals in Boston knew of this but did nothing about it. Marty instructs the Spotlight team to begin researching the story. As they do, they begin to uncover a secret that the Catholic Church has kept hidden for too long.
McCarthy’s ability to let the story unfold in a very natural fashion is astounding, nothing here seems over glorified, the Spotlight team aren’t made out to be heroes, and the twists and turns the film takes feel genuine.
McCarthy had help with creating an extremely genuine story with some incredible actors on hand. In my eyes Schrieber, McAdams and Ruffalo shine a bit above the rest, but not by much. Its one of the better ensembles I’ve seen in a while, the team performance here is what makes the film great.
Spotlight is moody and dark, but not dismal, Howard Shores score works wonders. I felt uneasy, and at times almost sick, but in a way that snuck up on me, and to me that is a sign of good filmmaking, this is a film that can only be described as harrowing. One scene that involves children singing Silent Night had my heart thumping in my chest, and another involving McAdams character coming face to face with a priest.
It’s not a film that I would deem incredible, It’s a very good watch, and while some scenes may stay with me, I won’t be raving about it in the near future and I will probably never watch it again. Although it is still a wonderfully well done biographical film, on a topic that hasn’t been told often, with a terrific cast.
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