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Review - Spotlight

By midlandsmovies, Jan 28 2016 08:44PM

Spotlight (2016) Dir. Tom McCarthy

Focusing on a team of investigative journalists at the turn of the millennium, this drama stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams as reporters looking into historical accusations of s*xual ab*se in the church. These Boston Globe writers have the difficult task of exposing a cover up in the Catholic city as blind religious faith comes up against the wrongdoings that are rife amongst many priests in the area.

The film begins slowly with new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) shaking up the department by demanding they not only try to go for the evasive priests at the top but to bring the whole system to justice. Rather than just the one perpetrator that they initially find - who is being moved from parish to parish to hide his evil past - they quickly uncover a pattern amongst nearly 90 people including the city's Cardinal. Interviewing the now grown-up victims as adults, their stories horrify as they recount how the church used (vague) areas of the law to pay them off and avoid prosecution.

Stanley Tucci (who looks unbelievably like Harry Shearer throughout) plays a level-headed attorney who tries his best in difficult circumstances and attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

With documents and testimony hidden from view, the film explores the secretive nature of those in power and asks (and tries to answer) the question of how they got away for it for so long. The movie however lacks a real punch in its delivery. The scenes are filmed in an ordinary, even workmanlike, fashion where the dialogue is allowed to breathe but the locations are a bland mix of offices and corridors. Like a TV movie, there’s little artistic vision for the film and although there is darkness in the subject matter, the brightly lit meeting rooms and houses have more in common with a soap opera than Oscar nominee.

The film played out as expected (even not knowing the story) thus it didn’t build any tension and the tone was so lacklustre it weakened the impact of the serious exposé it retold.

Therefore, other than the subject matter I’m not really sure why this is on the Oscar lists. Mark Ruffallo or Michael Keaton are solid and could be considered perhaps as a best supporting actor each its but hardly a defining moment for any of the performers involved.

Spotlight admirably covers a serious period in Boston’s history, one which needs to be told and it IS told well by the acting heavyweights on show here. That said however, although I didn't want an overly sensational Hollywoodised adaptation, I'm left with the question - did it have to be told in such a wishy-washy way? So in the end it was that which made me feel that Spotlight was nothing more than a mediocre movie.

7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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