Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “Spotlight” (2015)

This evening I finally got round to watching Tom McCarthy’s Best Picture winner about the spotlight team at the Boston Globe, whose investigative journalism uncovered a major scandal, revealing mass sexual abuse of young children by scores of Roman Catholic priests.

Very reminiscent of All the President’s Men, this film has an excellent story and it is brought to the big screen by an airtight, intelligent script that stirs so much emotion from the audience; I definitely felt a sense of shock and anger at just what was being brought to light, an admirable quality in a film, to be sure. Whilst it may occasionally get a bit difficult to remember all the names that are being thrown around (like President’s Men, you have to keep concentrating, lest you miss an important plot point), Spotlight maintains a solid pace, there’s never a dull moment and the runtime effortlessly flies by; I was perfectly comfortable sitting through it all and never felt an urge to check my phone (which seems to be becoming an interesting test nowadays!)

Spotlight has a brilliant ensemble cast and every performance is pitch-perfect and unshowy; there is absolutely no ego or Oscar-baiting to be found from anyone. Michael Keaton continues to prove that he can do no wrong nowadays as he delivers an ideally authoritative performance and Mark Ruffalo is also outstanding, his character having an unwavering passion (if that’s the appropriate word) for getting to the bottom of the story; I was completely swept up in his desperation, constantly willing him to get the documents and seriously nervous that someone else would get there first. Stanley Tucci is incredible as are Rachel MacAdams and Liev Schreiber, in his restrained, dignified role as Marty Baron (sounding eerily similar to Dustin Hoffman, in my opinion). As I said, everyone is note perfect, delivering genuine performances that effortlessly bring the script to life. Plus, Keaton and Ruffalo’s counterparts have said that their representations were eerily spot on!

As with the performances, McCarthy’s direction is unshowy and effective, setting a perfect tone and keeping interest at maximum. The film looks immaculate and McCarthy cleverly includes a church in many exterior shots, emphasising how much of an influence the Catholic church has in an area like Boston; one shot in particular sees a church looming over a potential victim’s house. There’s also a very effective outward zoom used in the scene where the team finds out that there could be at least 90 priests guilty of sexual abuse; with clever direction, this admirably tells us that the team’s story is bigger than they know. The film also has some wonderful music, courtesy of Howard Shore; it is a suitably moving accompaniment that stirs emotion but is never manipulative or cloying.

Certainly no fake news here, no siree.


An important, compelling story brought to life by a flawless script, unshowy direction and pitch perfect performances.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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