It’s quite amazing to think that a year removed from the very Adam Sandler-y The Cobbler, Tom McCarthy produced Spotlight. One of the finer films to come out of 2015, and taking two Oscar wins with it. Being based on a true story is always tricky as well considering potential implications that come with it.
Spotlight revolves around the Spotlight team of The Boston Globe that head the charge to uncover the child sex abuse scandal that is seemingly rampant in the Roman Catholic Church and dates back a few decades. If Boston is famous for something that isn’t the Red Sox, it has to be its attachment to the church. The Boston Globe’s new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) insists the spotlight team head the investigation.
McCarthy enlisted quite an ensemble to help portray this heavy subject matter. Taking on the role of The Boston Globe Spotlight team, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James and Michael Keaton all deliver fantastic performances. The trouble is with a heavy subject matter such as this, the film will naturally be dialogue-heavy, but the performances delivered by Ruffalo and co only help this cause and keep us emotionally invested in the team.
Being only 9 or 10 years old when this scandal was unearthed, this is completely new ground to me in regards to learning and the way McCarthy reveals the information is incredibly smart and intuitive to keep us watching and demanding more.
A trouble I have had recently when watching the bigger films of years gone by is the familiar connection to the films stars. Spotlight is nothing but connection to these real-life people going about to uncover the dirt that lies beneath this story. From Brian d’Arcy James’ Matt Carroll finding a ‘treatment centre’ yards away from his home, to Ruffalo’s Mike Rezendes exclaiming it could have been any of them that could have been abused. The reality of the situation is certainly a striking feature of this film and I don’t believe for a second it wasn’t intentional by McCarthy.
There is a feel of a certain institutional vice grip that the Church has on the town, and this comes vivid in the unbelievably smart editing by Tom McArdle. When the Spotlight team are canvassing for their investigation, you can see a vast amount of churches within a stones throw of the victims being interviewed.
The important thing to consider with this film is not much happens with regards to spectacular gritty action shots, but rather the team literally bunkering down and doing some investigative work. But the way McCarthy continually keeps this tense and the uncovering of the story being fed drop by drop is an absolute master class.
Spotlight easily comes down to the story and the compelling cast working hand-in-hand and that is perfectly conveyed through the screen. As the story runs through the touch over two hours run-time, the actors look more grizzled as they unearth this dark secret being kept by the church. And their efforts to keep the story running and it revealing darker secrets is just riveting, but also quite frankly horrifying.
McCarthy alongside the enigmatic crew of Ruffalo, Keaton and co have created one fascinating film and handled the sensitive subject excellently. Concentrating the story through the Spotlight team was the best approach and of course Schreiber being the glue guy pushing the team forward. The story and the editing is only helped on heaps by the evocative score produced by Howard Shore was just beautifully composed and fitted perfectly with the editing.
The impact that the story had on myself and my friends from the viewing was intense. McCarthy’s direction was great and McArdle’s editing alongside Shore’s score was just brilliant and really made the film worth watching. Having the sensitive subject matter at the centre of the film handled so superbly was excellent and I don’t think McCarthy could have done a finer job.