Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Film Review: Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Vudu Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a very effective and engaging investigative drama."

Spotlight, a team of investigative journalist at The Boston Globe, delve into a case of systemic child abuse in the Catholic Church...

Spotlight follows the titular team of journalist: Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), the editor, and journalists Michael Rezendez (Mark Ruffalo), Sascha Pteiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James). After The Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Shcreiber), Spotlight is assigned to investigate systemic child abuse committed by numerous Roman Catholic priests. They find themselves delving into a heinous world of awful secrecy and rampant abuse. The group find abusive priests were simply removed from their positions and relocated without punishment. And the issue continues to amplify through the corruption of other officials, including deceitful lawyers. I don't want to spoil the film for you, so I'll leave it at that. The film leads to a good ending.


Spotlight is a great film. It's an engrossing drama with a meticulously crafted investigation. The film moves seamlessly from scene-to-scene, keeping you hooked throughout most of its runtime. Now, there was a moment where I felt it was derailed, but it quickly got back on track and continued moving forward. Thanks to its pacing and structure, this drama really feels like a thrilling mystery at times. The drama is also amplified through some very poignant and disturbing stories – as told by the victims. It can rattle you at times. However, there were moments where I wished it showed us more of the Spotlight team and the victims. It's a large story to tell, sure, but it does feel a little underdeveloped. You can get an idea, but the image isn't burned into your retinas. Although it's impactful, it doesn't hit as hard because it doesn't take as many chances as other similar dramas.

The acting was fine, though. Mark Ruffalo did very well in this dramatic role. I was a bit underwhelmed considering the accolades since I didn't feel he delivered the right emotion throughout most of his performance, but he was more than serviceable. Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams delivered splendid performances, though. The supporting cast was also very strong. The film is shot well – nice cinematography and camerawork. The music, although limited, was also very effective, matching the poignant mood of the film. Spotlight was written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy; McCarthy also directs. The writing and direction are both structured to deliver a powerful story with fair pacing. I did feel it lacked risks to really make the film takeoff, but it wasn't bad in either case – not at all.

Overall, Spotlight is a great film. It's a very effective and engaging investigative drama. The powerful narrative is bolstered by the great writing and direction as well as the strong cast. If you're looking for a drama to move you, this one will certain leave an impact. Personally, when it comes to films about systemic abuse, I preferred South Korea's Silenced (2011) to Spotlight. Regardless, I'd recommend you watch one of those two if you're interested in the subject or genre.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some language and references to child abuse.

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