Directed by Thomas McCarthy to a screenplay by McCarthy and Josh Singer, the critically acclaimed Spotlight is as much about journalism as it is about the scandal that stands at the heart of the story. Based on true events – the Boston Archdiocese’s cover-up of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts, a story that was exposed via a series of articles that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, Spotlight is like a volcano taking its time erupt. The filmmakers are not hurried, introducing the Spotlight team and their fact finding methods in a measured manner, atypical for today’s “rush to press” (or, more likely, rush to post on Facebook/Twitter). And thus while the victims’ tales of abuse and molestation are still shocking yet nothing new, the real diamond here is seeing reporters who are fully devoted to a job they consider sacred. In an age were channels such as Fox News show what amount to propaganda disguised as reporting; CNN rushing to report speculations rather than facts, and plenty of social networks buzzing with fiction that is anything but news, is the sort of journalism shown in Spotlight a dying art?
Thomas McCarthy directs the film with a confident hand, and the entire cast shines. Noteworthy especially are Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber. I appreciated the subtlety with which issues were presented, as well as how no one member of the newspaper’s Spotlight team stood glorified above the others. This sort of investigation was indeed a team effort.
One item in which I felt the story could have been sharper is the question where does faith ends and the institution of church starts, and where does that institution ends and personal responsibility begins? While at the film’s end the scope of the abuse worldwide is shown, the filmmakers made a conscious choice to stay focused on the local stage; a satisfactory choice, yet something had gone amiss. That being said, Spotlight is a fine piece of filmmaking, well-worth watching.