Spotlight tells the true story of how the Spotlight-section of the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and its cover-up within the Bostonian Catholic Archdiocese in 2001, which shook the entire Catholic Church on a global scale. This new Hollywood production is by the hand of director-actor Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler, 2014,..).
Spotlight is one of the most anticipated feature films next to Iñárritu’s The Revenant or Tarantino’s The H8teful Eight, with 6 Oscar nominations in this year’s 88th Academy Awards; namely Best Picture, Best Director, Mark Ruffalo in Best Supporting Actor, Rachel McAdams in Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
If I was asked to describe Spotlight in just one single word, it would definitely be ‘Simplicity’. This could be found in every single aspect, like acting, editing, cinematography, setting, etc. When it comes to naturality and credibility, the film scores 100%. Frankly said,I don’t really know what entire buzz is. Yes, Spotlight indeed puts a ‘figurative’ spotlight on the scandal in the Catholic Church, which is a touchy subject, but the film felt a bit dull and actionless. When it wasn’t for the modest, humane and authentic acting performances, I would simply rank Spotlight with the endless reruns of the CSI-series we get to swallow every year again.
Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Mean Girls) shows her natural acting skills as the only female member of the team, called Sacha Pfeiffer. Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island, The Avengers) as Mike Rezendes seems properly casted because of his ever-tormented facial expressions., which are not out of place for the somewhat frustrated and hard-working Rezendes. Stand-out was Brian D’Arcy James as Matt Carroll though, with his witty manners and fatherly care taken to the upper level, when he finds out that one of the suspect priests lives just around the corner.
Unfortunately, this film has a monotonous pace, which you really had to stay focused for. The lack of action and tsunami of dialogues creates a situation of information-overload and name-throwing, without even put a face to them. Although editor Tom McArdle, who also edited McCarthy’s The Visitor in 2007, is nominated for Best Film editing, I never witnessed any peculiarities which could make Spotlight so outstanding. Also the setting was simple in that sense. Offices, court rooms,.. all of them very late 90’s.
Remarkable once again is the cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi, who easily adapts his work to the director’s style, but still is able to capitivate the atmosphere of the historical setting. The rather old-fashioned way of filming and use of colours (or lack of colours) reminded me of Scott Cooper’s Black Mass (2015). And guess what, its cinematography was also by the very same Takayanagi.
What kept me watching was the detailed narrative and accuracy of the features given. Could you imagine 90 accused priests in Boston since the ’70s? And they only came up with the report in 2001? Those are some details that really strike me. Hats of for the real-life journalists of the who went deep to get this case and report it in the Boston Globe in a humane and respectful way, although they involved many institutions in the controversy, namely Church and Law. The film based on these events is nonetheless too modest and not outstanding or provoking enough to be worth receiving 6 Oscar nominations.