If you ask me which film I consider the most important film of 2015, it’s Spotlight. Spotlight sheds light on one of the greatest cover-ups in human history and brutally exposes the great injustice that has affected many across the world. The Catholic Church, as a collective, has a horrible streak of child sexual abuse and paedophilia. In Boston alone there were hundreds and many more have been exposed throughout the world. The last scenes of Spotlight were simply flashed a long list of places where the pervasive nature of this crime had been committed. The names just wouldn’t end. What’s perhaps the most horrific part of it all, is the systemic hiding of these acts by the higher order. And the violation continued. Spotlight depicts all of the systemic atrocity in a clinical way, without fuss nor extravagance, and unearths the truth with a resounding determination. I’ve always been quite critical of the Church in this regard, so the film naturally resonated with me quite deeply.
Spotlight may not be the prettiest film. It doesn’t go into the ‘why’ nor explore the more complex subject of sexual celibacy/repression and how it gives rise to a more extreme and warped sexual desire and proclivity. It may not have had the artful flair given that it’s basically all offices and homes, papers and hidden documents, and journalists and victims. But that is the exact idea that Tom McCarthy wants to convey. No style. Simply truth. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of convincing to root for the journalists in every step of the way. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery and Liev Schrieber make for a talented cast that elevated the tension on screen. Their fights, their own stories, they personalities, their inner fire and moral fibre and their dogged determination were so real. I was literally vicariously living their experiences; It was that good. Perhaps it’s also because of this deeply rooted angst we have against the people of the Church thinking they can sin and fool under the facade of God. Well, Spotlight definitely connected with that feeling, and brought those feelings out of us.
What brought that emotional resonance right into our very gut and core comes from its acting. You’ll immediately get the general notion of the ‘unappreciated hero’ narrative. Spotlight doesn’t shy away from the discrimination and obstacles that face the ‘Spotlight’ team at Boston Globe. Their struggles made us more invested in their efforts, as we’re called to put ourselves into their shoes. Sacha (Rachel McAdams) was always in a perpetual state of unease. Michael’s (Mark Ruffalo) rhetoric about justice stemmed from his internal fire and rage. Walter’s (Michael Keaton) always seen trying to be logical but seems only to be more confused. And Matty (Bryan d’Arcy James)’s scene where he places a note on his neighbourhood’s pastor’s fridge, with it saying ‘Stay away kids’ is the one light-hearted moment that carries a whole baggage of seriousness to it. All that I’ve just described are brilliantly effaced by convincing acting and emotion. Best ensemble? Spotlight deserves it. I feel that Spotlight isn’t about being flashy, it’s all about the cohesive team effort that when united, exposes the greater truth; In essence, it’s just like its acting. The sum of its parts are greater than the individual.
There isn’t much else for me to say about the plot. You’ll just have to watch this one and be moved by Tom McCarthy’s daring film. I’m not amazed by the style or the craft of the film. It was at best, decent. It was a little too conventional in the way the story unfolded. Perhaps McCarthy simply wanted it as it really happened, so unflinching and real, and didn’t want to add any pizzazz that might have taken away the film’s intrinsic power of truth. As for the acting, there can only be praises. Apart from the main cast, the victims in the film added the much needed layer of complexity and effect. From one father who’s increasingly more comfortable with exposing his past trauma, to a man who bares all about how sexually pleasing his pastor as a child was unavoidable because it would be like denying God etc…Spotlight gets to the naked core and fleshes all of the raw emotion and psychological effects of its victims.
If there were a compiled list of best scenes in film this year, there would be one from Spotlight that would make it. Out of all the movies I’ve watched, this one still rings the most vivid and lasting. Sacha Pfeiffer’s talk with the victim who ponders then ruminates with a little self-disgust at how pleasing the pastor was deemed almost sacred, and how his homosexuality gives rise to feelings of guilt because of his past trauma, is one scene of shuddering potency. It is well-paced and all-encompassing in its message. Both characters engage purely to understand and never judge. They’re both sensitive to the nature of the conversation whilst Rachel McAdams gave solace, however fleeting it may have been, to a troubled heart. Ultimately, Spotlight as a whole captures the spirit of this scene . It never judges. It exposes.
Rating: 8.5/10 One team can question an entire belief. One team can bring light to the darkness. One team can spark the advent of justice. A big shout-out to the real life Spotlight team for exposing the truth and starting investigations all over the world that not only brought justice but also peace to the affected.