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Review: Spotlight

7 min read
(L-r) Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Crudup, Michael Keaton and Brian d"Arcy James star in Open Road Films' SPOTLIGHT

The controversial subject matter seen in Spotlight received a great deal of attention when it first hit newspaper stands. Many were shocked by what had been taking place for decades, while there were also people who were happy to see it exposed for one reason or another. When looking at the potential audience, I guess that’s kind of what you might get from the people who watch it. There will be some people who go see it and be stunned by what they see, but there will be others who want to check it out, because they’re familiar with the story that’s being told.

With real people and real events at the center of it all, Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team from the division of the same name who shook the city’s religious core by unearthing the long term secrets that many held onto within the walls of the Catholic Church. Through hard work, the team uncovered a sexual abuse scandal involving children that appeared to be covered up by some of the highest ranking people in the system.

When looking at it in its entirety, Spotlight ends up being a decent movie overall that misses out on its goal of being thrilling. What prevents it from being the actual thriller that it dreams of being is the slug like pace that is witnessed in the second act. If the film would have consisted of a pace closer to what is seen in the final act, you’re talking about a movie that I would consider to be a much better watch.

When going over what the film actually is, I immediately realized that Spotlight is essentially a religious version of All the President’s Men minus “Deep throat,” but with a couple of extra reporters working on an explosive story. If you’ve seen the heralded 1976 picture starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, you pretty much have already seen this movie. It’s the same style and involves uncovering a conspiracy that reaches pretty high levels in a powerful institution.

Also like All the President’s Men, there’s nothing here that veers into captivating territory since it’s a very basic movie that’s stripped down to the bare essentials. From a cinematic perspective, this is the type of movie that may be a rousing success in the eyes of many critics while not exactly being able to please the average member of the general public. What I’m basically saying is that it won’t dazzle you with anything it’s serving up, but it’s a film that’s technically well done.

As with Black Mass, Spotlight may have a built in audience filled with folks from all over the Boston area who are interested in watching a story that they’re familiar with unfold on the big screen. Because of that, it will likely spark conversations from both the religious and nonreligious people from these areas who are fascinated with the stories that came out after this true to life investigation was officially unveiled.

If you choose to watch Spotlight, be aware that it doesn’t truly engage with the characters on a personal level. It pretty much offers nothing else outside of the investigation. If you’re a person who would like to learn more about the actual events, this is a good place to start. Spotlight is very informative from an investigative standpoint since it gives its viewers quite a bit of facts to go on. If you’re looking for legitimate thrills, it’s hard to say that this is the movie you would want to watch.

Rating: R

Director: Tom McCarthy

Michael Keaton
Mark Ruffalo
Rachel McAdams
Liev Schreiber
John Slattery
Stanley Tucci
Brian d’Arcy James
Billy Crudup

Film Length: 128 minutes

Release Date: November 6, 2015

Distributor: Open Road Films

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