Film Review: Spotlight

Spotlight is one of the best films of the year, and that’s because it does the exact same thing that its characters do: it tells the story right.

Helmed by director Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler, The Visitor), Spotlight is not a snappy, glorified recollection of The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic child sex abuse scandal in Massachusetts. Its an honest, persistent, and tonally consistent film driven by the dual objective of accurately recounting the true procedural events that led to The Boston Globe’s revealing 2003 story and honouring investigative journalism.

Michael Keaton at the TIFF premiere of Spotlight (photo by me)

Rachel McAdams at the TIFF premiere of Spotlight (photo by me)

“Spotlight” is the name of the investigative team at The Boston Globe that uncovered the story. That team, along with other key personalities, are reflected in a heavy all-star cast (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schrieber and Billy Crudup). There aren’t many “big” performance moments for anyone in this cast; instead, their work is subtle and complexly layered, and its that balance that helps drive the delivery in this film. The success of this is, of course, underscored by McCarthy and Josh Singer (Fringe, The Fifth Estate) script which operates in a very linear, sensical and ongoing way. Some movie-goers might find this gradual, honed-focus approach to be lacklustre, but McCarthy and co. didn’t set out to make that kind of film.

Spotlight pays a wonderful tribute to the real-life team, and other journalists around the world, who dedicate their every effort to finding the truth. It is a cinematic achievement wrought with integrity in every facet, and the kind of film I wish I could see more of when I go to the theatre.

I attended a screening of Spotlight at the this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Spotlight releases in Toronto and Vancouver on November 13th and will have a nation-wide release on November 20th from eOne Films. 

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