The message Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight sends is one that is relative to anyone trying to take on a powerful authority. You have to fight. A riveting and tension ridden tale of the Boston Globe investigators that revealed the corrupt power of the Catholic Church in the early 2000s, this Oscar winning film shows that you don’t have to wear a uniform or have superpowers to be a hero.
During the film, the viewers get to spend most of their time with the journalists, creating a feeling of inclusion. As the characters uncover more about the church, we feel as if we are a part of that, cheering them on from the sidelines. When they feel disgusted, so do we. Viewers don’t learn anything before the reporters do. Unlike many other movies, audiences get the facts along with the characters, accompanying them to interviews. As the film goes on watchers grow angry, wanting them to break the story and reveal the horrendous acts being committed. When Mike Rezendes, played by Mark Ruffalo, explodes in anger, we understand that anger.
Speaking of Ruffalo, while his performance is perfectly loud and believable, it overshadows the brilliant performance of the ensemble cast as a whole. There is no single outstanding acting performance in Spotlight. Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Live Schreiber, John Slatterly…the list goes on. Each character is portrayed in an equally credible manner. Even the minor performers, depicting the victims, are incredibly significant. The actors are all pieces in a magnificent puzzle and without one the film would not feel complete.
The most memorable aspect of the film is its uncanny timing. Creating a film that is over two hours long and keeps the viewers’ attention for the entire duration can be tough, but Spotlight pulls it off perfectly. Our eyes are never diverted from the screen and there is not a moment that feels dull.
The ending is not meant to give viewers a feeling of relief or comfort. The heaviness of the plot is supposed to sit in our stomachs. Spotlight is meant to have an impact on our perception of the church, or any other major societal authority. It shows the true power of journalism and spreading awareness. Don’t just sit by, speak out. You can’t fight corruption with cowardice.