SPOTLIGHT Movie Review
It’s becoming more and more rare these days that movies don’t pander or insult my intelligence. Then Spotlight comes along like a blessing and completely restores my faith in modern cinema. Bouncing back from that awful Adam Sandler dud earlier this year, director Tom McCarthy not only delivers the most thrilling and compelling drama I’ve seen so far in 2015, but it’s become the absolute highlight of his filmmaking career. Co-written by Josh Singer, Spotlight is an investigative news drama that runs in a similar vein with The Verdict and All the President’s Men. It centers around the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation led by “Spotlight,” a team of determined reporters who go on a year-long investigation involving child molestation within the Catholic Church and a dangerous conspiracy involving lawyers, government officials, and Boston’s most influential religious institutions.
Spotlight’s provocative and straight-forward approach doesn’t waste time with convoluted exposition or pointless diversions from the matters at hand, McCarthy isn’t interested in heroes and villains, or black and white. He wants to explore the pulse of hard-hitting journalism. Much like how The Last Picture Show showed the Golden Age of cinema through the prism of the old west, Spotlight is in some ways a showcase for the last hoorah in investigative reporting and journalism that would never quite be the same shortly after.
The “Spotlight” team is led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and his three colleagues Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfieffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). They all report to Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery). They now find themselves under the watchful eye of the new managing editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Baron is subtly portrayed as an unbiased outsider who has the financial concerns and integrity of the newspaper at heart but also slightly signifies the sign of the times that approaches the pen and paper tactics of deep investigative journalism. Schreiber, much like the rest of this enssemble cast never draws attention away from the momentum or importance of the story and his subtle performance is as valuable as the rest of the key players.
Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (Warrior) has a rich penchant for detail capturing subtle nods and references in office decorations or the symbolic subtext of lingering on the Boston Globe’s half-empty parking lot. Howard Shore’s effective piano-driven score understates the rhythm and tone of Spotlight’s thriller sensibilities without ever being intrusive or distracting. Spotlight is a movie that I immediately want to revisit and observe more of the lavish detail that was carefully constructed in this impressive production. If the rest of 2015’s cinematic offerings are half as good as Spotlight, I know I’ll end this year with a big smile on my face.