The Good
  • Great process focus on how to get the story right
  • Very realistic and gripping
The Bad
  • It does not leave room for dramatic cineastic elements
4.3Overall Score
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As the Oscar journey continues, it was time for the annual obligatory Boston movie (this year it was even two big productions – but Black Mass was underwhelming, so I am calling out Spotlight to be the Boston movie of the year).
The movie covers probably one of the most important journalistic achievements in recent history: the systemic sexual abuse of young kids by members of the catholic church and the subsequent cover-up of the same institution. In all honesty, before moving to the United States and reading about the widespread abuse which popped up all the time in national newspapers, I had no idea of this being such a “global epidemic”. After just having watched The Big Short which I enjoyed so much as well – I thought how interesting it is to watch a movie which depicts the unveiling of something which now is basically common knowledge but then was completely unthinkable: “The housing market crashing – yeah right !” “The Catholic Church systemically covering up for priests who would molest children – never ever. It is the Church after all !”
As the movie starts to pick up its speed, it is very clear where the journey is heading. Once the new Editor joins the Boston Globe and requests the Spotlight team to go after the story, the team starts running. And what I enjoyed here was how everyone is running for the goal, displaying the conviction and devotion of the reporters to the right thing – throughout the entire chain of command. At any point, it is so interesting to watch this team of reporters put together the pieces of the puzzle.
All the actors deliver stellar and believable performances – which is in hindsight one of the core differentiators of this film. The film does not go the standard route of condensing the cast down to one or two main actors for dramatic simplification and/or does not introduce a love story to spice things up. To quote Rachel MacAdams from the trailer, the movie tells the story and they tell it right. It seems for one of the very few times, a movie based on true events has the absolute intention of staying true to the events even if the “dramatic” effect may suffer. During the research for this post, I stumbled accross this amazing interview of the original Spotlight – after watchting that, I was even more amazed by how true to the facts, characters and story the movie actually stuck.
I actually really dug the realism of the film – it took its time to drive us through the lengthy process of uncovering a scandal. Building a story takes time, and looking at a movie from 2001 (just or already 15 years ago) when the Internet was gaining traction but had not taken over every type of information flow, it seems almost nostalgic to think that there is actually a team which can build a story over months. Even when they have something which is worthy a press release, the team intentionally chooses to wait until they can take a swing at painting the bigger picture – I just loved that.
A subtle yet very effective display of a church in almost every shot of the movie conveyed the prevalence and power of the Catholic Church throughout Boston and the country – as the Spotlight team goes underway to uncover THE biggest scandal of the Catholic Church. As the team finds out more, the different members act out their disbelief in their own very interesting ways. And the acting of the very development throughout the film was just fantastic – by literally every member of the cast.
All in all, an intense very “process-focused” film with lots of attention to detail to uncovering one of the greatest scandals in history. A story told right with great actors and an almost nostalgic reminiscence to true journalism in the pre-digital-only world.

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