Spotlight: The BRWC Review

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‘When you’re a poor kid from a poor family, religion counts for a lot. And when a priest pays attention to you it’s a big deal. How d’you say no to God?’

Andrew McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer present us with the true story of how the Boston Globe, took on the abusive institutions of the church in a city where Catholicism was so deeply entrenched that even the police were covering theiir crimes.

One thing I really admired about Spotlight is its resistance to grandstanding in tackling its fact-based story. It isn’t the one sided attack on the church that it could easily have been but a graceful depiction of a truly terrible subject.

What the film lacks is moral depth; the characters are sadly very two-dimensional. I honestly think most of the their dialogue is interchangeable throughout the movie. The actors all bring something different to their roles but you’d expect that from a cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Lieve Shrieber and Rachel McAdams. They’re all good but Stanley Tucci steals every scene he’s in.

The Globe gets a new editor and he asks the spotlight team to investigate a case of a Catholic priest who has been accused of molesting multiple children. They take on the case and start to realise that this isn’t an isolated incident. As the investigation grows, so does our interest in the case. Most people will be aware of the findings but the film does well to entertain when we still know the outcome. Scenes in which the abuse victims discuss their past are sobering watches.

It’s such an interesting case that the film does work in many ways. You find yourself caring for the victims and for the reporters, hoping that their story will get told. The problem is, by the end, important documents are made public and as such regardless of whether the Globe report them, another paper like the Boston Herald would have done and as such the Catholic church would have been exposed anyway, so where is the dramatic stake?

The film was good but not great. The story is interesting but the shallow characters mean we are never invested as we might have been. A missed opportunity perhaps.

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