Movie Review – ‘Spotlight’

“★★★★★” “Electrifying! The Oscar front-runner!”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF


As demand for instant news has increased over recent years, the always competitive news markets have tried to keep pace with the news-thirsty customer demands for timely (and still accurate) information. Added to the mix is a watchful public armed with immediate access to Internet posts and real-time videos—both often used to fact-check biased reporters or provide contradicting images to mainstream media reports.

News media consumers have argued a trust issue has developed between news reporters and them–the intended audience. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that a film which exemplifies fair, honest and reliable journalistic qualities would be well-received by moviegoers.

Some viewers will characterize “Spotlight” as the true story of a cover-up by the Boston archdiocese of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests over several decades. But to simplify this stellar film down to only its end result misses the means by which text-book journalism triumphed in the name of public safety. The spectacular “Spotlight” is less about the disgusting crimes committed by the Catholic Church and more about the lost art of journalism.


This dramatic film’s most compelling feature is how it rekindles the Boston Globe’s integrity and persistence just as tension builds from outside pressures…setting up a bold showdown by the film’s end.

With a focus on getting to the truth, the newspaper’s investigative “Spotlight” unit shines light on the cover-up of child molestation by exercising the fundamentals of news reporting; accuracy, objectivity and impartiality. “Spotlight” depicts a news organization where facts are followed–allowing the story to tell itself. The newspaper’s editor confidently willing to put fresh eyes on an old lead. Where the reporters aren’t the story, but rather the conduit to truth.

Writer-Director Thomas McCarthy (“Up” 2009) provides keen insight into a covert newsroom, with less than a handful of reporters, who are given the time to get the big story right. After all, being first to report news that’s wrong only leaves the public misinformed, not enlightened. The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team that uncovered the secrecy and abuses within the Catholic Church did get the big story right—even earning the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2003.

“Spotlight” is the most electrifying film so far in 2015. Its emphasis on uncovering horrific patterns of abuse by those in powerful positions, highlights the need for robust journalism that prides itself on fair, unbiased and truthful stories. The caliber of on-screen talent (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams) and powerful storyline make “Spotlight” the Oscar front-runner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay.

Grade: A+

“Spotlight” is rated R for some language, including sexual references.  Its running time is 2 hours and 7 minutes.

© 2015, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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