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Film Review: ‘Spotlight’: An honourable unveiling of dishonourable actions

A Pulitzer prize-winning investigative team named ‘Spotlight’, work to unveil the extent of not-so-Catholic child abuse in oh-so-Catholic Boston.
This is the volatile matter handled in this film.
Spotlight ropes us into the world of investigative journalism in loyal and tight-lipped Boston. The team, a concoction of brilliant talents such as Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and John Slattery, portray the small but stubborn team who spend months preparing a sensational story, until they stumble upon a story that really changes lives.
The team bring to fruition the human side of mourning and loss, when tackling matters as sensitive as faith and abuse, while keeping the entire look and feel of the film as authentic as possible.
There are no needless romances, no glorification of reporters, no unnecessary scenes to fluff the audience experience. Instead, director and co-writer, Tom McCarthy delivers something quite unforgettable, reminding us of just how recent and real the issue is. Slattery’s character, happily married with kids, discovers there is a correctional house nearby where priests embroiled in abuse scandals go for ‘sick leave’. The character’s painstaking concern as a parent gives the audience the uncomfortable sensation of the matter being too close to home and exactly how that must feel. The emotional turmoil is captured perfectly by Rezendes, played by Ruffalo, who demonstrates the sheer betrayal he feels and the anger that this is much bigger than any of them was prepared to face.
The team is constantly hit with dead ends, small loopholes in the law and this is only heightened when combined with every member of the team trying to stomach the extent of the scandal. After all, they too have all been born and bred in Boston, it’s their home town too. Perhaps it is Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of a middle-eastern lawyer who is being pressured by the church to keep quiet about the matter, who hits the nail on the head.
‘It takes an outsider.’ he tells Rezendes, referring to Marty Baron, the new editor at the Boston Globe, a quaint but honest Jewish man played by Liev Schreiber who refuses to drop the story despite clear warnings from those affiliated with the church.
In a nutshell, the tale is about the truth finding a way to the surface, the side effect being the dirt it brings up with it. Questions such as; why wasn’t it uncovered sooner? Why did nobody listen to the victims? Is the entire state of Boston living in denial? Were the few at the top the lucky ones who weren’t abused?
The Spotlight team address all these matters, including why even their own paper tried to bury it years earlier. The script drip feeds and nurtures a giant responsibility that nobody has stepped up to claim. The uncomfortable feeling that something is very corrupt that has allowed this to happen for so long, stays with the audience throughout the film.
Then it pulls off the master move of showing how the story is pushed aside following bigger global events, such as 9/11. The film even goes so far as to show the Boston Globe’s own moral code being compromised when they decide to delay the release of the abuse tale following 9/11, for the well-being of the people.
Spotlight is, arguably, the greatest and most authentic film reflecting journalism to date. It is a worthy and notable Oscar-contender, performances alone are riveting, but the script itself is tight, engaging and honest.

Written by Hina Malik

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