Monday, November 30, 2015
Spotlight (a movie review post)
So, just to be clear, Spotlight is not about what it's about. I think the perception or, at least, the easy way of saying it is to say that Spotlight is about the scandal in Boston over the abuse of mostly young boys by priests in the Catholic church. That is the easy way to say it, but the movie isn't really about that. It's the story of the reporters who broke the story about the abuse going on within the Catholic church.
In part, it's about how hard it is to sit on information while you dig for even more information. It's about what it's like to think you have one story, the story of one man abusing his power, to find out that what you have is a much larger story, the story of a whole institution supporting that abuse by that man and many others just to avoid embarrassment. What do you do when you fins out what is already a horrific story goes so far beyond that?
One of the telling things for me is that the actual reporters involved in breaking the story are saying that this movie really nails what happened. They're saying that this movie, more than any other, really gets at the heart of what it's like to be a reporter and to investigate a story.
The acting is amazing. I'd like to say that Mark Ruffalo, as Mike Rezendes, stole the show, but he really doesn't. Which is not to say that Ruffalo puts in a performance that is less than to be expected, because he doesn't. Ruffalo is superb. It's just that all of the actors are performing at that same level. So, in the scene were Rezendes loses it at Robby, Michael Keaton shines just as brightly as Ruffalo.
Stanley Tucci, an actor who never seems to get as much credit as he deserves (I mean, compare this role to his role as Caesar Flickerman), is perfect: understated and intense. Liev Schrieber is commanding. John Slattery is conflicted; you never know which way he's going to go as things unfold, and that's a huge credit to the actor, as he did all of that non-verbally. You can see, almost feel, his conflict as the depth of the scandal unfolds. And Rachel McAdams, an actress I've never really had a care for one way or the other, has demanded respect from me.
All things Marvel aside, if you can only see one movie this year, this is the one it should be. As an overall film, nothing has had better performances from an entire cast, and no other movie has dealt with a topic like this. And the movie does that well. It could have been just about hammering the Catholic church; it could have stayed at that level and focused on how horrible the church is for allowing that kind of abuse to go on for, at least, decades, but, by showing us the story through the eyes of the reporters, it rises above that. It becomes something human and personal. We don't have to see the horror to know the horror (unlike, say, 12 Years a Slave, which felt the need to show us all the brutality in explicit detail). As such, Spotlight is more subtle and, by way of that, more powerful.