Friday, November 13, 2015
For as long as people can remember, the powerful and influential Boston Archdiocese has been an essential part of the Boston community which is predominantly catholic. The church, the justice system, and even the press look the other way when it comes to crimes or misconduct by priests. That status quo is challenged when a soft-spoken new editor-in-chief Martin Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives at the Globe in 2001. With a clear vision and commanding leadership, he assigns Globe's investigative reporting team—Spotlight—to look into Boston Archdiocese's role in clerical sexual abuse after the notorious crime by a priest John Geoghan is exposed.
The four-person Spotlight team is led by the editor Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton). Although he is regretful about the fact that he dropped the ball as the Metro Section editor when the story came to him 20 years ago, he wastes no time to reflect and dives into the investigation with his best reporters. The energetic Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) work restlessly to obtain documents sealed by the Archdiocese and gets cooperation from abuse victim's lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci). The sharp Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) knocks on doors of abuse victims no matter how many times those doors slam shut on her. The nerdy Matt Carroll (Brian D'Arcy James) brilliantly finds a way to narrow down a list of pedophile priests without the help of Internet searches. Their painstakingly detective work pays off and astonishingly shakes the previously untouchable institution.
The film is a salute to all the outstanding journalists who work tirelessly in digging out stories that not only inform the public, but also profoundly impact the society. The director Tom McCarthy magically puts us on the shoulders of these terrific reporters to witness firsthand how they conduct their daily work which earns little compensation but is enormously rewarding. Although the film is full of conversations in the office and very few explosively dramatic moments, it is remarkably engrossing and even thrilling sometimes.
While the film's focus is the investigation process of uncovering a deeply buried story by a few best reporters, the film says little about these driven reporters themselves. Obviously they are passionate about their work and dedicated to it. However, once the story is out, they recede from the spotlight and become invisible again, even perhaps struggle to survive the next round of layoffs. How sustainable is the old-fashioned investigative reporting? What is the effect on society if their important work becomes extinct? You can't help but to ponder these questions during the movie. The film bluntly illustrates how important the free press is to the health of our society.
Just like the fine reporters uncovering the truth in the film, this movie is a superb journalism in its own right in pursuing the truth about these journalists at work.