This all–too–true story from co–writer/director Tom McCarthy is superbly cast and strongly played but flatly handled at times. Yet the tale is so appalling it has real power anyway and should leave any audience enraged.
The facts behind the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning investigation into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are depicted in the build–up to a series of articles that began running in January 2002. The ‘Spotlight’ team are Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) and three reporters, Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matty Carrol (Brian d’Arcy James), and while an uneasy change in management takes place and a new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), comes on board, the team start investigating a priest named John J. Geoghan, whose crimes took place years beforehand. The non–Bostonian Baron clashes with deputy editor Ben Bradlee Jr (Mad Men’s John Slattery) while the Spotlight gang realise that they’ve truly opened a can of worms, as they approach opposing lawyers Eric Macleish (Billy Crudup) and Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) to help encourage traumatised and now–adult victims of other abusers to come forward. These survivors question why the Globe is suddenly so interested, and we’re even treated to a deeply uncomfortable scene where Baron attends a meet–and–greet and shakes hands with Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou), who says that the Globe could work with the Church in ensuring only good–news Catholic stories are printed. With the expected sequences showing the Spotlight members arguing and grappling with their consciences as September 11, 2001 proves a distraction and their personal lives intrude at times, McCarthy’s film’s key facts won’t prove a surprise for punters who have heard such stories over and over (and over) again. While this isn’t quite on par with something like All The President’s Men, the performances and the quiet anger make it worth catching, as you sit wondering where God is in this whole unholy mess. Spotlight is in cinemas now. Rated M