Spotlight was about the true story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the child
molestation scandal within the local Catholic Archdiocese, rocking the entire Catholic Church to its core. The national reception of the shocking story, which came out so soon after the devastation that was 9/11, was a grueling ordeal. Local Boston communities, as well as the nation, could never have predicted that the spiritual leaders in charge of spreading love and healing were in fact preying on children.
The film begins with an officer who knows all too well what’s going on. Powerless to stop it, he resigns himself and reluctantly looks the other way. The movie closes with the ominous insight that the problem may be far larger than previously suspected. Upon the shoulders of already giant issues, we are left feeling simply hopeless.
The film structurally sandwiches these helpless societal reactions between the deliberate efforts by those fighting injustice and by the people that make up the meat of the story. The story isn’t just about hopelessness, but also about the hope and determination that counterbalance it. These factors together make up the (brilliant) seesaw of the plotline.
The humanity is brought alive by the cast, with performances that are impressive individually, but also elevated exponentially when put together. The reporters presented in the story are a picture of journalists that we seldom get to witness. The very nature of clickbait means that the loudest sensationalism gets the most attention, causing us to lose faith in the institutions meant to inform us.
Yet this specific team of journalists couldn’t have come off more sympathetic and trustworthy. As the emotional solar system of the film, the cast was flawless in its portrayal of flawed yet heroic agents of truth.
When the investigation begins to ramp up, it’s from a deliberate effort by the team to “ignore everybody”
incentivized by the new editor, an outsider to the situation with a fresh perspective. These subtle nods to reason, while not cheapening the power of a well put together narrative, make up a powerful message. It allows enough mental wiggle room to let us freely explore the subject while being subtly guided along the path. Spotlight feels true to the title and real-life story, shining a bright spotlight into dark places. If you’re in the mood for some deep introspection and far-reaching outer exploration, this film will definitely feed that never-satisfied hunger for truth. And later, if you’re in the mood for a similar expression of counterintuitive truth-seeking, check out The Big Short (which was nominated for best picture along with Spotlight).
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