Film Review: Spotlight

In association with the Grosvenor


Spotlight is a very urgent film. It shows the story of the reporters of the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe newspaper who reported in 2002 that the Catholic Church was covering up systemic child molestation by numerous priests. There’s strong underlying tension throughout, as the characters race to gather the sources, documents and evidence they need to publish the story at the right time. However, they struggle with the various institutions and events that threaten to bury the story, while trying to hold back until they have all the facts.

Despite a slow start, where the film seems like an endless stream of important meetings, the film kicks off as the story develops and grows bigger and bigger, and the scale and stakes become higher. Despite this, Spotlight does not spiral out of control, and stays focused in on the investigative reporters. The moments of the film that allow the main four actors to talk and reflect on the situation are one of the film’s strongest, and help break up the seemingly endless meetings that could otherwise have dominated it.

Where Spotlight shines, however, is when it focuses on the survivors. Despite the heart of the news story being on the survivors and their justice, Spotlight tends to focus more on the reporters and gladly so, as a film devoted to the retellings of the horrific experiences these people went through would be overwhelming. Luckily, Spotlight’s scenes with the survivors are told with grace and sensitivity without being overly sentimental or gratuitous.

Spotlight is sparsely shot, with no artsy cinematography but this minimalist style allows the focus to remain on the reporters and their work. It lends itself to the complexity of the story they seek to uncover, and the final moments lay open the ramifications of a small group of people who held back and waited for the right moment to take on one of the world’s biggest institutions.

[Jo Reid]

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