Directed by Tom McCarthy
Written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, and Stanley Tucci
“Spotlight” chronicles The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of pedophilia in the Catholic Church and its subsequent cover-up. The movie is an incredible piece of filmmaking, the writing, the direction, and the performances of the cast all elevated each other. “Spotlight” stands as an excellent example of how important each of those elements is in the making of an excellent film.
“Spotlight” contains not only some of the strongest writing of any movie this year but some of the strongest writing of any film released within the last few years. “Spotlight” is structured in such a way that you as the audience are privy to as much information as the reporters doing the investigation. When they learn new information, you as the audience learn this information with them. The film’s construction allows it to peel back each of its layers slowly, like an onion, rather than revealing everything all at once like peeling a banana.
Tom McCarthy’s direction of “Spotlight” was everything it needed to be and then some. McCarthy tells the story in a way that does not glorify the journalists investigating the story. They are only doing their job, which is to investigate and tell the story that came across their desks. McCarthy tells the story in a way that does not vilify either the priests or the Church, something that would have been easy to do considering the circumstances of the story. He also does not spend too much time with the plight of the victims, Again something that would have been easy to do. Instead, McCarthy tackles the movie as a piece of investigative journalism, telling a story that needed to be told to shine a spotlight (no pun intended) on the situation going on inside the Catholic Church.
While “Spotlight” contains strong writing and direction, the greatest strength of the film is in its ensemble cast. This movie is a perfect case study for how to make an ensemble piece. As I was watching “Spotlight,” I was unsure as to who the lead was. I suppose Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton were the for all intents and purposes leads of the movie, as all of the scenes contain either Keaton or Ruffalo. They do not feel like they are the leads of the film; the whole ensemble works well together. No one performance overshadows another. “Spotlight” is not Keaton’s movie, it is not Ruffalo’s movie, it is no one person’s movie. The real “star” of “Spotlight” is the story, as it should be.
“Spotlight” is a well-crafted movie with incredible performances. It is a movie that knows what its goal is, and that is to tell the story. “Spotlight” is easily one of the best films of the year, right now I would put it in the top three.