Like the contemporary 'The Big Short' this is another film where all the 'action' is verbal, with a cast every bit as stellar, though with the bonus that this time I could understand all of it. I liked this one even more than the other.
The subject is the true one of the investigation in 2001 by the Boston Globe newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church's cover-up of cases of historical child abuse, specifically in the diocese of Boston, and its protection of paedophile priests, of which the then Archbishop Law of Boston was fully aware and who was actually a chief player in the actions of concealment.
If there is a dominating role among the ensemble cast it's taken by Mark Ruffalo as a headstrong, earnest reporter, looking younger than ever - but also strangely less attractive this time, at least to me. But there are also several other cast members with substantial, meaty roles - Michael Keaton as senior reporter, Liev Schreiber as the paper's boss and Rachel McAdams (whose name I had to look up, appearing in several recent films, the best known to me being Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris' of 2011). She, as another investigative reporter, has the only significant female role in the film, one in which she meets some of the victims of abuse, now all adults. In addition there's Stanley Tucci, an irascible figure who knows the situation from his own experience but found his own earlier investigations being foiled at every twist and turn by the obstructive Church which, understandably, doesn't want the story to get into the public domain. The Globe staff are determined to gather the evidence to blow the whole story open to the world, despite the Church's continued efforts to do all it can to keep a lid on it. The story becomes even more sensational when it's discovered that paedophile priests are not just a 'few bad apples' but that their presence in Boston is, in fact, rife - and, as the closing notices make clear, is so throughout the entire world. It's a situation which has now, sadly, become so familiar - namely that when it comes to finding justice for the victims of abuse and for punishing the criminal perpetrators, it all comes second to the Church's own self-ordained top priority of protecting the 'reputation' of that same 'Holy Mother Church'. If that means doing shady and hopelessly inadequate deals with victims to keep them quiet, and moving these same priests to other parishes where they can continue their abuse, then so be it.
I found the film quite rivetting, even though we know where it's going. It's fast moving and always interesting, and the cast is of uniformly very high standard.
Director (and sometimes actor) Tom McCarthy keeps it all driven along at a cracking pace in a film for which I have no appreciable complaints at all. I've seen slightly unfavourable comparisons being made for this as against another investigative reporting film, 'All the President's Men' (1976), about the Watergate break-in and cover-up. There's no doubt that this latter is a very fine film, though I haven't myself seen it since its appearance those 40 years ago. However, I do think that 'Spotlight' can hold its own in comparison, and for that reason I award it a well recommended..................7.5.
2 hours ago