Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Winner of the Best Picture Oscar and the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2016, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is a contemporary story hugely reminiscent of Alan Pakula’s All The President’s Men that set the standard for meticulous historical journalist stories. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci we follow the Spotlight team that consists of a team of four journalists of The Boston Globe (Ruffalo, Keaton, McAdams, Slattery) that investigated a massive scandal of the Catholic Church that protected an entire system of pedophiles that even included a cover by the establishment of Boston’s Catholic majority.

The story as it is, is disgusting and the plot stays away from sensationalist facts, graphic depictions, or forced victimization. All the storytelling is on the investigation and how those journalists had to fight to get truth and had to shake things up for their story to get published. However, none of this could have been if it was not for their editor Marty Baron (Schreiber) and his tenacity to get to where he wanted to be. In fact, the 128 minutes of the film well paced and even if the action is in the dialogues and the information passed on the screen, the story never stops being interesting or even to slow down.

The mise-en-scène is sober and there are many subtle decisions in the few elements included in the frames and I think that every frame was meticulously composed with all the nuances of beiges, greys, and browns. There is a lot a of information that is shared with only what the characters are looking at and that are appearing as the camera zooms out or in. Those smart choices when added to a camera that is often in movement with its characters moving and talking is a nice effect to show us how the investigation advances. Writer/director Tom McCarthy did an excellent job in his storytelling and drove his directorial cart with righteous choices.

As aforementioned, Spotlight reminds at first sight to All the President’s Men that influenced many filmmakers like David Fincher for his Zodiac, The Social Network, and most of his films. But Fincher took the influence and transposed it in his stories. Is Spotlight strong enough to stand on its own and not be a follower or a lookalike to Pakula’s masterpiece? Probably, but its film has a very strong 1970’s vibe to it and I could easily understand because I would certainly be paying homage to the great films of the 1970’s if I was making films or television myself. However, as much as Spotlight has qualities and as much as I liked it it is not The Social Network and definitely not All the President’s Men.

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