6. SPOTLIGHT (dir. Tom McCarthy, USA) (7)
By Michele "'Izzy" Galgana, Associate Editor
Spotlight follows a special investigative department of the same name of The Boston Globe, my area’s major metropolitan paper, and honestly, the last bastion of real, old school news reporting in New England. I’m glad that this film found its way onto our top ten films of the year, and it’s not just because I live here. While that is a very definite part of why the film is one of the most effective pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen, I’m glad it’s being noticed because of the very real issue that it tackles -- hidden pedophilia within the Catholic Church.
Directed by Tom McCarthy, the film follows Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, and John Slattery as they look into the allegations against John Geoghan, a defrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. If that is too disturbing to you, stop reading. That travesty is what starts off the initial investigation. The more the news team digs, the more they find absolutely atrocious acts of the Church -- specifically, cover ups of problematic priests as they are moved from parish to parish. Swept under the rug, these acolytes are the ones given good treatment -- as well as fresh victims for their inherent sickness.
In its very best forms, art and media act as mirror to hold up the truths of the world. As frightening though they may be, we need them to expose crime and corruption. Spotlight shines a light on the people who kicked the lid off the cover-ups that lead from Boston’s Archdiocese and went all the way to the Vatican. The end reveals some information that will chill you. People were abused and both individuals and families were emotionally destroyed. Some victims didn’t make it and committed suicide.
Spotlight never treats its subject in an exploitative way; rather, the survivors portrayed in this story are treated with care… Quite unlike what actually happened. The plot unravels bit by bit, but you never feel as if the film is slow, because it is riveting and horrifying. Names, information, and eventually, horrifying yet vital key confessions are discovered, resulting in a film that builds a tense momentum that grips and never lets go. Spotlight deserves a place among other newsroom dramas such as All The President’s Men, Citizen Kane, and Frost/Nixon.
This film shook me. I was born into a Catholic family in a suburb very close to Boston. My stepfather did and still works for The Boston Globe. I have been in that great pressroom on Morrissey Boulevard where the papers are cranked out by the thousands, where plates and ink turn blank newsprint from nothing into a document of our local municipality. When I was 8 years old, I was given a choice as to whether I wanted to continue attending parochial school, and I immediately choose public school. I recognized that religion was a way to control people, and I wanted no part of it. Nothing about it made sense to me. Just two years earlier, I took my first communion and hugged a priest for a photo. Boston is my town. The survivors are the people I live among. As a child attending church, Spotlight could have been me. I know at least one person who wasn’t so lucky. We need more films like this.