Last night I was in Birmingham with nearly 5 hrs to kill while my daughter and her friend saw All Time Low (an American pop punk band from Towson, Maryland – I’m none the wiser!) at the NIA. I had been planning to base myself in one of the many coffee shops locally and read The Night Manager, but then I had an idea… find a cinema! After asking directions, and fifteen minutes wandering I found myself at the Central Birmingham Cineworld – and the timing was perfect for seeing Spotlight.
It tackles a difficult subject – child molestation by Catholic priests in Boston and its cover-up and is based on a true story.
The four journalists, led by Robby Stewart (Keaton) that make up the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe work alone on in depth investigations that can take months. They sense that their jobs may be in jeopardy when the new editor Marty Baron (Schreiber) arrives from Miami. Marty has other ideas though – he spotted a column written elsewhere asking what happened to the Geoghan case? Geoghan was a Catholic priest who molested several children some years ago, and it is alleged that the Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese covered it up. Marty assigns it to the Spotlight team, telling them to go for the system, not the individual priest. Things are complicated by all the relevant legal documents being under seal – they’ll have to find a way around it.
Mike (Ruffalo) goes after Mitchel Garabedian (Tucci in a marvelous wig!) the lawyer working for current victims, Sacha (McAdams) and Robby pay Eric McCleish (Billy Crudup), the lawyer who worked for the Cardinal in the previous cases a visit – he won’t say a word. They all meet with Phil Savieno, a victim who has started a support group. Suffice it to say, they soon realise the problem was far bigger than just one child molesting priest. It becomes a real detective story, combined with legal thriller and all carried on trying not to let the Cardinal know any detail about their investigations, whilst beating the other Boston newspapers to the full story. There’s something in a newspaper movie isn’t there?
The ensemble cast are all wonderful – the film has already won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. It was lovely to see John Slattery supporting as the less suave asst editor (although I do miss Mad Men still). The five leads were all brilliant. I thought Michael Keaton who can convey so much in his face by just a twitch or glint in his eyes was brilliant, and I would go and see anything with Stanley Tucci in.
As the film ends on a relative high as they get their story, you find yourself saying thank goodness they uncovered all this – then the closing titles show the horror of the extent of the cover up… Your sense of righteous justice having been done leaves you with a real sadness that it was just the tip of the iceberg.
This film deserves all the Oscar nominations it has amassed (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor – Ruffalo, Best Supporting Actress – McAdam, Best Directing – Tom McCarthy, Best Editing, Best Original screenplay). Fingers crossed it gets some of them. (10/10)
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