Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Spotlight

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Spotlight

Article excerpt

Like The Revenant and The Big Short , Spotlight is yet another Oscar contender 'based on true events' -- although it has now been suggested that The Revenant was 99.7 per cent made up. (Does this matter? Only, I suppose, in the sense that you should know what you're watching.) But we're on firm ground with Spotlight , where the events -- the Boston Globe 's uncovering of systemic child abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts -- are a matter of record, although how you make a film about something so awful, I don't know.

Personally, I wanted the film to give it to the Church with both barrels, and let rip with fury, but it's too restrained for that. Instead, what we have is conscientiously dogged, as well as somewhat repetitive, driving the same points home over and over. Indeed, if I'd had £1 for every time the script employed the phrase 'But this is the Church we're talking about!', it would have been an odd way to make money, but I'd have come away quite well off all the same.

Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent , The Visitor ), who also co-wrote the script with Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate ), the film is set in 2002, in Boston, a city which, you quickly gather, is so Catholic -- 'But this is the Church we're talking about! -- that no one wants to acknowledge what is happening right under their noses, and this includes the Globe . (Think BBC at the time of Savile, and that's where it was at, more or less.) The Globe had evidence of abuse going back many years, but either buried stories or failed to act on leads, and that was its modus operandi until the arrival of a new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Baron is not a Bostonian. He's Jewish. He's an outsider, unclubbable, immune to winks on the golf course and to certain looks over drinks and such like. He insists the Globe does some digging, and puts the paper's 'Spotlight' investigative team on it. The team are disbelieving at first. 'But this is the Church we're talking about!' And so on, until my pockets all but jangled.

The team, as led by Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), has three reporters at its disposal: Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James). Here the film is, I think, caught between a rock and a hard place. Give the reporters too much personality or back story and it becomes self-aggrandising -- about them, not the victims -- but award them too little, and they are phenomenally dull and bland, as is the case here. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.