It’s a tricky task for a film about any sort of historical or cultural event to feel timely during its release. As a matter of fact, sometimes those historical films struggle to even seem necessary. Luckily for Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight” arrives at the perfect time.
A story about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the disturbing and deeply rooted Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, “Spotlight” directs attention to the massive importance of journalism and the effects of religion. Both themes have significant relevance to the ever changing landscape we live in as a society today as they are both components of the aftermath of recent events in the world.
In a world where being first to a story seems to be all that matters to a news organization, “Spotlight” allows us to hit a reset button and once again discover what true and great journalism really is. Led by journalist Mike Rezendes (played by Mark Ruffalo), the Spotlight team takes months to iron out and solidify a story they know would have a massive impact on both Boston and the world. The newly hired editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), insists on digging for the full story which in the case of the Catholic sex scandal was the deep corruption in addition to the eye-grabbing cases of abuse.
In this case, the Spotlight team taking their time to get the story right makes the entire story stick while rushing the story could cause it to quickly disappear into irrelevance. In today’s age, so many try and get their articles out first as to attract the most web traffic. Who knows how many great stories have been lost over the years because the actual story was lost?
In addition to the showcase of fine journalism, “Spotlight” also shines thanks to the microscope placed upon the suffocating power of religion and its effect on the psyche. In today’s hyper-religious society, where religious tests are being proposed for incoming immigrants because of some sort of perceived superiority of western religion, a film like “Spotlight” feels incredibly necessary to wake us all up to the fact that not even those religions we know and trust are clean in their actions. Religion can be blinding and the case of the events covered in “Spotlight” we see that very blindness having devastating effects on both individuals and Boston as a whole.
While the societal impact of “Spotlight” deserves lots of praise and attention, the composition of the film deserves attention as well. As intense a film as possible about actual events that don’t involve a flashy gunfight, “Spotlight” feels inspired and driven much like the team of journalists the film depicts.
The top performance of the film belongs to Mark Ruffalo who portrays the aforementioned Rezendes with a remarkable amount of authenticity and detail. That being said, the entire ensemble led by Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams give strong and memorable performances which will surely lead to a Screen Actors Guild ensemble nomination later in awards season.
Needless to say, “Spotlight” is an awards contender that cannot be missed. This is a story and film many of us will discuss for months and years to come.
“Spotlight” is now playing in theaters across Austin and nationwide. Showtimes are available here.