The recent child abuse scandal in the Catholic church is one of the worst coverups of our lifetimes, and the scale of it still hasn’t quite sunk in to the general public’s consciousness. Certainly not many people know that the tip of the iceberg was arguably found by an investigative journalism unit for The Boston Globe, the “Spotlight” of the film’s title, who uncovered and exposed what had been going on in their local area for decades. That all makes this not just an informative film but a hugely important one, as it chronicles a series of events that bear repeating until as many people are aware of them as possible. This could easily come across as preachy, or – perhaps worse – exploitative, but due to the respectful and considered approach of the creatives involved it instead ends up being quietly devastating.

Such lurid subject matter requires as careful an approach as possible to remain tasteful, and thankfully director Tom McCarthy (who also helped write the wonderful Pixar film Up and the underrated Million Dollar Arm) and co-writer Josh Singer have taken the simple but brilliant decision to handle the material with the same impartial, objective eye as its various journalistic protagonists – a calm reading of the facts that works a thousand times more effectively than any sensationalism. McCarthy (an actor himself) also seems to be a great actors’ director – like his previous films The Station Agent, The Visitor and Win Win, he frames his scenes entirely around his performers and lets their work breathe. This ultimately creates a very naturalistic and therefore calmly effective exposé that allows the shocking facts to speak for themselves.

A calm but devastating portrayal of one of the biggest scandals of modern times9
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer's decision to respect the subject matter by using the same impartial journalistic approach as their subjects10
McCarthy seems to have quietly become one of the most interesting indie directors in America9
A fine acting ensemble, particularly (and predictably) Mark Ruffalo9
Some facts simply bear repeating, as coldly and clearly as possible9
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
Bechdel Test Failures
  • None of the named female characters talk to each other
9Overall Score

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.