Spotlight focuses on the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize winning team of newspaper reporters investigating a case of a priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of children. This is a newsroom drama that reveals a hidden conspiracy and cover-up in the tradition of All the President’s Men (1976) and State of Play (2009).
The film focuses on a team of five reporters, known as “Spotlight,” who are assigned to investigate and research a shocking story no one wants to talk about, and their incredible disturbing discovery. And it’s all based on true events.
When a new editor arrives at the Boston Globe, one of his first tasks is to assign the Spotlight team to investigate a long overdue dropped case of child abuse by a priest that was never followed up with. What they uncover is an abuse scandal of pedophile priests that is far more rampant and far reaching than anyone imagined.
A trusted and powerful institution in the community, an unwillingness to speak against the Catholic Church, and reports of abuse that have been buried and silenced for decades—these are some of the difficult and frustrating elements the team is faced with. This is the kind of controversial story that old fashioned newspaper journalism has always excelled at.
Spotlight is an absorbing and intensely gripping thriller that never lets up as the story delves deeper into a disturbing quagmire of statistics and victims who have been silences since childhood. Everyone involved with the investigation instantly recognizes the importance and the ramifications of this shocking story to the citizens of Boston and ultimately the world.
On the one hand, there are terrible secrets that are being kept under wraps by powerful people in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church as well as the justice system, and the innocent traumatized victims who have no recourse or hope of compensation or normalization in their lives on the other.
The stakes are high and the film relentlessly reveals new disturbing facts and revelations as we follow each of the reporters while they investigate and uncover different aspects of the story. As the case develops, the scope of the scandal increases, and as more people are pulled in, the story becomes more personal, hitting closer to home for the members of the investigative team.
Spotlight builds suspense through the bewildered newsroom reporter’s reactions while researching records in dark dingy archives, spending long hours typing on their computers and going door-to-door to interview victims, lawyers and experts on the subject who have been involved in these cases.
It’s a fascinating look at a subject that has recently become all too familiar around the world. Catholic priests accused of molesting children, and the church that protects them by re-assigning them to other churches while lawyers are making loads of money secretly settling the allegations out of court.
The ensemble cast is excellent which include Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Liev Schrieber as the new editor of the Boston Globe, but it’s the story that takes center stage here and is also the main character in the film. Spotlight‘s movie reviews have been phenomenal; keep your eye on this one when award season comes around.
There is a great line in Spotlight as it becomes clear that the scope of the story encompasses all aspects of society: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to abuse one.”
by John Schwab