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Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams lead a critically acclaimed cast in this gripping true story about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered a scandal that rocked one of the world's oldest and most trusted institutions. Delving into allegations of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese, a tenacious team of Boston Globe reporters exposes a decades-long cover-up that reaches the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment. "Brilliantly acted and flawlessly directed" (New York Post ) Spotlight is a powerful and riveting drama the critics are calling "the All the President's Men of our time" (Los Angeles Times ).
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The reporters included Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) who reported to Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) and him to editor, Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery). A new Jewish editor-in-chief arrives from Miami. Marty Baron (Liev Schrieiber) wants to instill new life into the paper and sees “Spotlight” as key. What makes the film special and interesting is that director Tom McCarthy (“The Visitor”) keeps thing moving quickly and shows some of the grungy details that reporters go through to get a story right. Constant rejection, door-to-door inquiries and sifting through an unending supply of books, news clippings and other documents provide a real sense of the grunt work involved.
While the acting is superb at every level, I will take note in particular of Ruffalo and McAdams. Aside from their commitment to the story, they have different ways of getting their information. Mike is relentless in his pursuit and shows his passion outwardly. Sacha is quieter, more sensitive to her sources and methodical. Both characters and actors are brilliant. Robby is also the antithesis of Marty. He’s aggressive, persistent, willing to get his hands dirty and supportive of his reporters. Marty is quiet, reflective but not afraid to take on budget constraints or the Church hierarchy. The contrasts in the characters and their personalities make the film interesting and absorbing. The lurid subject matter is handled with a soft touch by McCarthy providing a perfect example of the power of a free press. Highly recommended.
1. This movie is an account of the true story of how The Boston Globe investigated allegations of children being raped by priests in Boston in 2001, and uncovered a world-wide system of child sex abuse that the Catholic Church had been allowing for 30 years.
Like most people, I know about the scandal. But I never really knew about how it was first discovered, or how much the Church actually, officially knew. This movie taught me a lot about both of those points, in a way that was both nimble and hard-hitting. It's one of the best movies about investigative reporting I've ever seen. This is All the President's Men of the 21st century.
2. About halfway through this movie, I wondered why nobody had been assassinated during the investigation or production of the film. It not only makes the Catholic Church look like a bunch of criminals, but the city of Boston, too. As one character said, "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one."
3. The movie makes the point several times that priest abuse isn't about being gay. It's not that the priests preferred boys, they just preferred children being available and vulnerable, and usually from hard lives. Boys were easier to keep quiet than girls, because of the extra heaping of guilt and shame that boys would feel. The movie does show girl victims, as well, though.
4. The victims depicted in the movie make it clear that they weren't just raped physically, they were raped spiritually. Boston is a hard-core Catholic town, and several victims said they saw priests as being close to God. The trauma ripped apart their very soul.
5. The first half hour is spent introducing all the main characters, and the movie zips from news rooms to houses to churches to courtrooms to law offices, talking to everybody along the way. It requires sustained concentration to keep up. This isn't a "turn your brain off and enjoy it" movie.
6. The ensemble cast of actors was great, especially Michael Keaton. But the screenplay was so good that half their job was done. The actors had to kind of channel the words and allow their natural emotions to surface, which they all did beautifully. Director Tom McCarthy (who was not very well known outside the indie world - until now) holds everything together with a graceful tension.
7. Just when you think the bad guys are going to be exposed and justice served, you are stopped from feeling too proud. The movie accuses all of us of being guilty of knowing things that must be stopped, but for one reason or another, we look the other way.
8. As filthy and corrupt as the Catholic Church looks here, the filmmakers must have depicted things very accurately because the Church's official response to the movie was basically, "Yep, they discovered it. But we're all better now."
9. There's no violence, or sex, and very little swearing in the movie. There's nothing to distract you from following the story. Nothing is done in a manner that is gratuitous or exploitative. This is a pure piece of film that documents the discovery of one of the biggest conspiracies ever.
It is the story of the Boston Globe's SPOTLIGHT team, an investigative reporting group, who looked into Boston's clergy sex abuse scandal. The Spotlight team documented that there were 87 KNOWN-TO-THE-DIOCESE priests who were raping children. Eighty seven priests known to the Diocese who were raping kids!
The film describes the team member's journeys toward the truth. Each of them was raised Catholic (Boston is 50% Catholic).
To me the most poignant scene was when Sasha, the only woman on the team, took the first Sunday expose over to her grandmother's house and sat with her at the dining table as the grandma read it. No words were spoken in this brilliantly filmed scene. The grandma "got it", in spite of her profound Catholicism.
As a survivor of clergy sex abuse, this film meant a lot to me and I was thrilled that it won BEST PICTURE. You can read my book if you want to learn more about what it takes to heal from this horrible crime. It is here on Amazon.