“This film is different in that it does not try to be anything, it just is exactly what it is”

by Rachel Wilford

There are no words that can possibly describe the impact that this story—that this film—has on its audience. Its authenticity captures you from the very first scene, and tethers to you well past the very last. The way in which this film was produced was exactly what the story needed: a raw, unaltered depiction of what happened. Nothing more, nothing less.

This true story takes place in Boston, Massachusetts in 2001 and involves a team of four investigative journalists (known as Spotlight) who work for The Boston Globe. The team is assigned to research a potential scandal involving the molestation of children by Catholic priests. Upon further investigation, Spotlight soon uncovers the countless amount of priests in Boston that have been abusing children for decades and how both superiors of the Catholic church and various lawyers knew about these heinous acts and did everything they could to cover them up.

The film takes you through the journalistic process of researching and conducting different testimonies of victims, uncovering the tactics the Catholic church used to cover them up, and the countless phone calls, frantic note-taking, and digging that this investigative team administered in order to break this essential story. The depiction of journalism throughout the film is honest and unfiltered, leaving the audience with no questions as to how the characters stumbled upon information or came to conclusions. It was all there, laid bare, on the pages and on the screen.

Directed by
Tom McCarthy
Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber
Release Date
6 November 2015
Rachel’s Grade: A

The way this story needed to be told was very specific. It called for a certain level of bluntness as well as delicacy, elaboration as well as discretion. The way the actors portray their characters is admirable and unmarred. Mark Ruffalo in particular does a spectacular job of portraying a tenacious journalist seeking justice and what his character, Mike, lacks in subtlety and patience, Rachel McAdams’ Sacha makes up for in tenderness.

I feel it is important to recognize not only the A-list actors in this film, but also to acknowledge the performances of those lesser-known actors who had the difficult tasks of playing the victims of child abuse, such as Michael Cyril Creighton and Neal Huff. These actors were able to portray their tormented and pained characters so flawlessly that you forget you are watching a movie and instead you feel as though you are listening to the heart-wrenching testimony of a friend.

The cinematography of this film is clean and simple, as is the music. There is nothing fancy going on, no one is flaunting their movie-making prowess. The audience is simply presented with a series of rooms and a series of questions and answers that captivates much more than any visual flashiness ever could. The music in the film is subtle and catches no attention. It adds to certain scenes but does not distract from them. Only during the scene in which the horrific truths of the story are finally being written for publication does the music announce itself…only then, during a simple melody of “Silent Night” sung by a church choir of innocent children, does the music chill you to the bone.

This film is different in that it does not try to be anything, it just is exactly what it is. It is cut and dry, exposed, naked. It does not try to entertain its audience; it knows it will enrapture them. It does not strive for perfection; it wants you to see what’s behind the curtain, the corruption that occurs behind closed doors. It seeks transparency, and it attains it.

Spotlight is one of those rare movies that everyone can appreciate. It is one of those movies that will be revered and remembered for its earnest depiction of the truth.