Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Spotlight (2015)

              'Spotlight' Is Packed With Thrills And Tension In A Rather Unexpected Place

        At the very end, where they reveal a long syndicate of where sexually abusive priests have gone into hiding, I said to myself "I'm going to throw up" and yet there is hardly any gore in it. That is quite telling of how much disgust it'll leave viewers after watching it.

       Spotlight is based on a true story about a group of Boston Globe journalists that dig deep into a series of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests in Massachusetts and try to take down the Boston Archdiocese.

        I'll start off with the acting because this film is very much an ensemble piece. All the actors do their part, ranging from Michael Keaton to Billy Crudup to Liev Schrieber. But a few people that I thought stood out were Rachel McAdams who imbues both sensitivity and grit into the role of Sacha Pfeiffer and Stanley Tucci who slowly reveals layers of anxiety as a lawyer caught in the middle of the case. Even if I thought Mark Ruffalo's work was a little uneven, it is still a complete 180 from some of his previous work as he plays someone rather hard-nosed and less of an everyman that he has perfected before.

       Next, I'll get into the writing by Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer. This is not only a perfect actor's movie, but it is also how to write a screenplay as well. From the minute the main journalists are given the assignment to cover the Catholic Church, the plot is immediately set in motion. I also loved how we see the side of the abuse victims and how some of the interactions between the journalists and the victims are different from one another. They give their backstory and reasoning for trying to form a bond with the priests in gruesome detail, but in different ways whether they show calmness or aggression. I also appreciated how the main characters aren't portrayed as saints or noble for what they are trying to accomplish. They all felt like real people, nervously jotting down notes and even making threats just to get to the bottom of things.

      When the main plot is immediately set in motion, how the film is able to become packed with suspense and tension, even as the film mainly involves people sitting in desks and engaging in meetings, is a testament to the masterful editing by Tom McArdle. Writer/director Thomas McCarthy also makes sure the tension is presented through techniques such as long tracking shots on the actors as they continue speaking.

     One minor complaint I have is that towards the end, I wasn't sure when exactly is was going to end. So it had a few more endings than needed, but I still loved the way it finally ended.

     Overall, Spotlight is a masterful yet incredibly haunting look at the Catholic Church that will do for going to Church what Jaws did for going to the beach. Even if it isn't categorized as a traditional horror film, it is still one of the more frightening films I've seen this year.

Grade: A