***A true story, so spoilers do not apply***
Another film I am late to, one that got huge praise from critics and viewers at the time.
This looks at the real-life events surrounding a famous investigation by a team of reporters working at The Boston Globe newspaper, around 2001. The ‘Spotlight’ team are tasked by a new editor to expand their research into allegations of historical sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston area. They are told to take it all the way up to include the church hierarchy, including the powerful Cardinal Law.
Initially looking into the actions of a dozen or more priests since 1976, it soon becomes clear that almost one hundred priests were involved in this sex scandal, and that their crimes were covered up by not only the Catholic Church, but also by some police officers, and influential lawyers. They expose the corrupt system of pay-offs to victims, and the way that the guilty priests were moved around, or given long-term leave.
Many people conspire to obstruct the investigation. Records are ‘lost’, others sealed, and the team members become frustrated when they can get few victims to cooperate, and no help from any of the former perpetrators. The dogged reporters will not be put off, and put their own lives on hold as they work all hours, and travel around to demand access to paperwork, or try to get statements from those involved. Despite finding out that some of their own friends had stayed silent after being abused, and the team receiving threats from influential people in Boston, they keep going until the story is finally published.
I thought that this was an excellent film. Despite being very ‘wordy’, and having lots of characters to keep track of, it is never confusing or dull. And even though I knew the outcome before the film started, the tension stayed with me throughout. The locations are authentic, and the casting near perfect. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and Rachel McAdams are completely convincing as three of the journalists, and the campaigning lawyer who steers them with tips in the background. The script is sharp and realistic, and even though the subject matter is potentially distressing, none of the actual abuse is ever featured, or even discussed in detail.
A satisfyingly intelligent film, and very relevant in the 21st century.