I was raised a Catholic, and as such I was hidden from most big news bulletins that were deemed atrocious and unworthy of a child’s ear, but when I heard of Spotlight, I began to question a lot about myself, but not really cause I’m not unsure; I’m sure this is me and what I want to do in journalism (not investigative, but you know). This film is true to telling the viewer that this is particular to the characters, as it should be for you.
And all the while, I was slowly realizing that the film is a complete masterpiece that will go down as a classic in the “genre”. Like what All the President’s Men was, Spotlight comes in with a satisfying slow burn we all wait for at the end, and when it does, the satisfaction of the reporters are pivotal to the inner meanings for each character.
After the eloquently quiet and ominous prologue, the film jumps to 2001; they depart a fellow reporter in a typical cake with a sheet giving off well wishes and exchanging stories of their past. From there a new editor-in-chief moves in and brings this story to Spotlight. That’s where the investigation begins.
The film stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy as Spotlight reporters Walter Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pheiffer, and Matt Carroll respectively, though only the first three deliver recognizably infectious performances. Their performances have a necessary intricacy to give each character life outside of the known.
It’s procedural like All The President’s Men, where the story is about the reporters uncovering the facts, as opposed to shoving too much information down your throat. It’s not like a film that embodies physical emotion, like an action film or a comedy, but it makes you think about how time takes its course trying to uncover it. The emotion is more mental, as I wouldn’t physically be – “OH MY GOD” – with my mouth open, but rather I’d keep it inside.
Throughout Spotlight, it shows how each reporter would sympathize with certain victims of molestation, sometimes getting too emotional with a sense of bias; specifically shown in the scene where Rezendes says they have Cardinal Law by the grip, even though it’s not the story Robinson wants to publish. Another could be seen when they unfurl the mystery in the film, which followed as being a story of neglect in the news room.
When victim, Phil Saviano comes for an interview with his box of information, he informs them of a box with similar content being sent a few years ago. Yet, that was neglected by the reporter who was in charge of the section, Metro, which it was given to. The film is built upon mystery and questions demanding answers.
These answers bring into question morality and humility as they carefully piece together evidence that directed toward those answers being found.
McCarthy doesn’t take chances with these characters by giving them vices or morals (when you take into account the population of Boston that was Roman Catholic), specifically Pheiffer, who’s conviction comes from her job, that eventually came between her and her grandmother who’s a devout Catholic.
I’ve never been a true worshiper as moral convictions steered me away from some of the bible’s teachings, though at a point in my life, this reviewer has had a close relationship with a priest, and no not that close. The film fills the atmosphere with the immersive world it is dealt down to the last detail, even taking apart some of the niches of the journalistic world. They aren’t given an easy pass and every piece of information they look for comes with it’s own level of difficulty.
Thomas McCarthy, a fellow native of New Jersey like yours truly, captures on camera a perfect re-enactment that doesn’t feel like it, especially with the longer shot compositions for existentially provocative exposition that moves the film forward with smooth transitions and modesty. McCarthy captures emotion with subtlety, which in return is beneficial when the actors carry around a plethora of mannerism for hidden meaning. This is particular to McCarthy’s films, as he never steers part of the focus off it. Credit to this is also given to the cinematographer, Masanobu Takayanagi, who sets the landscape and allows the actors to play off each other in the allotted space. Takayanagi has done films, Warrior and The Grey, and from only seeing the latter, it is necessarily alright for me to say Takayanagi knows a thing or two about this type of camera work.
Shit, I really love this film.