Spotlight: a New Way of Showing
Spotlight, by Tom McCarthy, tells the story of an investigation by the "Spotlight" section of The Boston Globe that won the Pulitzer prize in 2003 for Public Service, exposing a 30-years-long cover-up of child abuses by Roman Catholic priests in
Spotlight, by Tom McCarthy, tells the story of an investigation by the “Spotlight” section of The Boston Globe, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for Public Service. The investigation exposed a 30-years-long cover-up of child abuses by Roman Catholic priests in Boston.
As the movie is “based on actual events”, and not just inspired by them, we follow the various developments of the investigation, after the arrival of a new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who urges the Spotlight journalists to work on this story. These journalists are Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), and we can see how the investigation affects each of them. One of them is a father of two, living on the same street as one of the priests involved, and another one is a churchgoer, who starts questioning her faith.
As the movie goes on, we find ourselves engaged by the true-to-life pace of this story, which has the truthful content of a bio-pic and the captivating unfolding of a mystery-drama.
Child abuse by priests has been denounced in many other movies, in books, and, sadly, we still hear about it in news. It doesn’t shock audiences anymore, and this is not the purpose of this movie. But still, the topic is painful.
Therefore, it is very important to take a look at the smart way in which child abuse by Church members has been framed in Spotlight.
The cover-up went on for decades and not only the Church took part to it, but also other institutions. So it is a shared responsibility, which the Spotlight journalists experience more and more throughout the movie.
As a matter of fact, there is a disillusionment that takes over, a bitterness, as they realise that “it’s like everybody already knows this story”.
Another meaningful choice made by McCarthy is not to show children throughout the film, and not to exploit their cute faces to increase our rage. If they appear on screen, it’s always very quickly, for example, while one of the victims, now a grown-up, bursts in tears and comments: “And of course there’s a church there. And a playground”.
Telling without showing is the emotional framework upon which the profundity of this film develops itself.
A touching example can be found in the long sequence of Mike Rezendes reading a letter by a mother to his minister, during his taxi ride to the newsroom. What we see is just a taxi on the streets of Boston, but it’s what we hear, her words, that matter the most.
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writers: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci