Spotlight Review

Spotlight is not a particularly fun movie to watch,  however, it is a wonderfully well-made one with subject matter more than worthy of exploration. The plot involves The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize winning investigation into the Catholic Church’s corrupt reassignment and silencing tactics involving priests who had been charged with molestation. The film plays out somewhat like All The Presidents Men, only with a more delicate approach to inter-character drama and dynamics. I suppose director Tom McCarthy is to thank for that. 

After last year’s bizarre Adam Sandler misstep The Cobbler, McCarthy returns to form here. The story is far more sprawling and ambitious than his previous efforts like The Station Agent or Win Win, but he treats the characters with as much care. There must be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 speaking parts in this sprawling investigation, yet not a single actor appears on screen who hasn’t clearly assessed and developed his or her character in careful detail. That helps immeasurably when selling a labyrinthine plot that could have easily felt like a collection of scenes in which people meet to exchange exposition. Yet, McCarthy and his cast keep the story grounded, small, and human. Given the nature of the subject matter, it only makes the film that much more powerful.

Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt that McCarthy has the likes of Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Brian d’Arcy James as the journalists at the center. Each commits fully to their slice of the pie and sets the tone for the rest of the sprawling cast. McCarthy doesn’t impose himself visually as a director either, letting the people and their stories carry the movie. Given the material at hand, it was a wise choice. Spotlight already feels destined to be heaped with praise as awards season rears its head given the talent involved and the subject matter. In this particular case, all that attention is deserved. 

Read our interview with Brian D’Arcy James here

Spotlight Brian D'Arcy James

This review was originally published as part of our TIFF 2015 coverage.