Brilliantly told with a cast of talented actors who did justice to their roles, Spotlight retold real life events at breakneck pace.
Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer. The film follows The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the real Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.
In 2001, The Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron. Baron meets Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists writing investigative articles that take months to research and publish. After Baron reads a Globe column about a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, who says that Cardinal Law (the Archbishop of Boston) knew that the priest John Geoghan was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him, he urges the Spotlight team to investigate. Journalist Michael Rezendes contacts Garabedian, who initially declines an interview. Though he is told not to, Rezendes reveals that he is on the Spotlight team, persuading Garabedian to talk.
Initially believing that they are following the story of one priest who was moved around several times, the Spotlight team begin to uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. Through a man who heads a victim’s rights organization, they widen their search to thirteen priests. They learn through an ex-priest, who worked to rehabilitate pedophile priests, that there should be approximately ninety abusive priests in Boston. Through their research, they develop a list of eighty-seven names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions.
When the September 11 attacks occur, the team is forced to de-prioritize the story. They regain momentum when Rezendes learns from Garabedian that there are publicly available documents that confirm Cardinal Law was aware of the problem and ignored it. After The Boston Globe wins a case to have even more legal documents unsealed, the Spotlight Team finally begins to write the story, and plan to publish their findings in early 2002.
As they are about to go to print, Robinson confesses to the team that he was sent a list of twenty pedophile priests in 1993 in a story he never followed up on. Baron, nevertheless, tells Robinson and the team that the work they are doing is important. The story goes to print with a link leading to the documents that expose Cardinal Law, and a phone number requesting victims of pedophile priests to come forward. The following morning, the Spotlight team is inundated with phone calls from victims coming forward to tell their stories. The film closes with a list of places in the United States and around the world where the Catholic Church has been involved in concealing abuse by priests.
‘The work you’re doing is important’, so says the Editor of The Boston Globe. I think this movie values the role of every reporter, journalist and writer who have been trying to expose every kind of truth in the most eloquent way possible, as a fellow writer, it humbles me. The movie takes on one of the most covered up incidents which apparently is still prevailing all the way up to the Vatican. Child abuse has been a sensitive topic and this movie shows how the story was pushed under the rug.
The cast did a fantastic job as serious workaholic writers who get emotionally attached to the investigation. Seeing Mark Ruffalo behaving differently other than his usual hulk or Bruce Banner stereotype was surprising. Tony McCarthy did well in putting this movie out, just as The Globe and its editor went ahead with their story knowing that the paper would come under heavy fire from Christian men and women, a ‘gusty’ move. Schreiber plays the role of the outsider well as the editor of The Boston Globe. His silent nature and insisting aura of putting the word out is a proud moment. This is a movie where a few people working behind cluttered desks in a basement, going over dusty church directories, spending more time with each other than with their own families, is actually interesting.
The pace of the movie escalates and there is no stopping it from climaxing as one of the best films. It’s a true story and brilliantly played. The movie depicts a slice of 9/11 in the newspaper editorial, but comes back to the case in a few weeks. One can only wonder how the priest ended up working for the Vatican later on.