Film: Spotlight

A powerfully executed ensemble drama, Spotlight is the most recent directorial effort from Tom McCarthy, and it slots comfortably on the shelf next to his excellent films The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win. Set at the turn of the millennium, it involves a small team of reporters at the Boston Globe, headed by Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), who focus on special, long-term assignments. The arrival of inscrutable new editor-in-chief Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) seems, at first, a threat to their budget—until Baron steers them toward a new story, to investigate claims of systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Going up against the church’s money and influence, they face considerable opposition, but their tenacity pays off in a story that ends up being far, far larger—and more disturbing—than they ever imagined.

McCarthy has a real knack for emotionally charged, actor-forward movies, and Spotlight is no exception. The skilled ensemble cast features terrific work from Keaton, Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’arcy James, and John Slattery, among others, not to mention a scene-stealing supporting turn from the great Stanley Tucci. Especially great, though, is Mark Ruffalo, whose idealistic, committed lead reporter Mike Rezendes serves as the film’s fiery heart. Alas, McCarthy has his auctorial blind spots, most notably gender balance and racial diversity; Spotlight fits that unfortunate pattern as well, focusing the vast majority of its shots on white male actors. But it’s still a compelling, well structured, and dynamically performed drama about a time, not so long ago, when the truth still seemed to matter.

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