Movie Review: SPOTLIGHT (USA 2015) ****

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spotlight.jpgSPOTLIGHT (USA 2015) ***1/2
Directed by Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery, Jamey Sheridan

Review by Gilbert Seah

SPOTLIGHT deals with the cover-up by the institution known as the Catholic Church of their priests committing the unspeakable sin of child molestation. But it is not so much a revelation drama – as everyone knows the fact already after the news has already spread – but how the Boston Glove uncovered the fact.

SPOTLIGHT is the account, based on actual events, that the words claim at the start of the film to add credibility of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that rocked the city and eventually the world. The characters are the “Spotlight” team of reporters. These are investigative reporters who pick a controversial topic and take it all out to provide readers of a story that would hopefully change lives. When the new top editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) comes on board to put in some bite in the paper, new stories are sought.

He comes across a priest being accused of molestation which leads to his initiation of the year-long investigation covering a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. This tense investigative dramatic-thriller traces the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

The film is more a technical account of how the team discovered the facts and how they went about getting their information from the courts and past documents. The script by director McCarthy and Josh Singer that won the Hollywood Screenwriter Award is a meticulously detailed account tracing the events, believably and comprehensively in an otherwise already too technical film. The script intersperses human elements with just a few confrontational scenes, but enough to get the audience’s emotions riling.

The team is made up of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo). Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams and Ben Bradlee (John Slattery), all aptly performed by the respective actors. Stanley Tucci does a good turn as aiding lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, looking quite distinguished with his hair piece.

Despite the controversial topic, the film manages to get its message across without resorting to any unnecessary disturbing scenes of child molestation. It is a story already told, but still one in which the world has to be reminded of, so that the past sins will not be re-committed and the guilty punished.

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