“Spotlight” does more than just entertain those interested in journalism, it also educates viewers on one of the longest running scandals in one of the worlds largest institutions, the Catholic church. This film is the true story of how the spotlight investigative team from the Boston Globe uncovered and reported on the rampant molestation happening between church officials and young boys and girls.
The movie doesn’t sanitize any facts or first-hand stories, and neither did the original article that was published in the Globe on Jan. 6, 2002. The movie has stood up to the fact checkers since its release in theaters and it’s refreshing to see such a serious problem gaining more attention, because although many people know about the scandal there are still plenty hair-raising figures uncovered by the four-person spotlight group.
The cast, featuring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for best ensemble and is currently nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture. The movie followed each member of the team as they did research making it easy for the viewer to see how each heartbreaking detail affected the reporters personally, most notably when Sacha Pfieffer (McAdams) had an ex-priest bluntly admit to fooling around with kids while acting as if it were no big deal, because he himself experienced the same as a young boy.
Although the movie spans two hours, it’s easy to stay engaged as you’re always wondering just what will happen next. There are more than enough emotional scenes present with first-hand accounts by victims and lawyers, but the common themes and problems become apparent, and it’s hard, if not impossible, to remain calm after learning just how many people looked the other way.
Taking place in Boston, a largely Catholic city, it took the new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) of the Globe to insist that a simple report of priest misconduct be followed up on. Baron was the first Jewish editor of the Globe, and although each member of the spotlight team was a lapsed Catholic, it still took Baron’s insistence that they demand documents from the church for further investigation.
This movie is not only an important reminder of a problem that is still going on today, over ten years after the Globe broke the story, but it also shows the importance of real investigative journalism, the kind that can’t be done through social media.
As a journalism student I couldn’t help but think this movie– this story– was a reminder of the importance of a free press. As shown through the movie, the four-person investigative team was a loss on the Globe’s balance sheet by committing large amounts of time and resources to a single story, but when looking at the impact of a single investigative piece you see the public good done outweighs everything else.
5/5- Easily one of the best films of 2015