Sunday, April 24, 2016
Spotlight ***1/2 (2015)
The Best Picture winner of 2015, Spotlight is an old fashioned socially conscious film extolling the best virtues of journalism. So much about Spotlight recalls All the President's Men, especially in the cinematography and editing. In 2002 the Boston Globe wrote a groundbreaking series of stories on the Catholic Church's institutional wide cover up of sexual abuse committed by its clergy. The title refers to a crack staff of investigative reporters at the Globe known as "Spotlight." Michael Keaton leads them as the seasoned reporter with close sources inside the church. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams excel as journalists determined to expose the cover up through harrowing interviews with survivors whom the church tried to silence. Spotlight's also a plea for rigourous journalism in an age when digital media dominates. So much of "web" journalism is mere responding to the news, not going out there and creating it. Today the trend continues as newspapers continue to slash budgets and are ever more beholden to their corporate overseers. Directed by Tom McCarthy, who made one of my favorite films of the recent past The Station Agent, does a great job of depicting interpersonal relationships. In addition to All the President's Men, Spotlight reminded me of Sidney Lumet films like Verdict and Network, taut dramas with a solid emotional core.