Written by Christine Fennelly
As a Boston native, a Catholic, and news junkie, I was both anxious and intrigued to see how well the producers of the movie “Spotlight” portrayed the unveiling of an international abuse scandal. The eponymous “Spotlight” is the true story of The Boston Globe’s award-winning investigative unit and its dogged work to expose the rampant and seemingly sanctioned child abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. As the film reveals the dark and ugly history of the Archdiocese of Boston and, most markedly, the downright criminal behavior of Cardinal Law, you can’t help but feel some personal hometown pride in the reporters and the institution which cracked open what would turn out to be an international scandal of never-before-seen proportions.
“Spotlight” got so many things dead on right about the story because the producers, writers and actors worked extremely close with the actual Globe reporters. The veritable Boston accent notwithstanding, Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Keaton as William “Robby” Robinson, John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendez and Ray Donovan himself Liev Schrieber as Marty Baron nailed their portrayals. And don’t just take my word for it, the real life reporters all agreed that the actors were meticulous in their research and performances.
But the movie is not one big standing ovation to the reporters and the Globe, either. The film reveals in a gut wrenching way a number of proverbial balls that were dropped leading up to the Spotlight investigation; scathing documents proving abuse at the hands of clergy that were delivered to reporters and Globe editors that were either overlooked or scantily reported on once and never received the necessary follow-up.
“Spotlight” is being compared to “All the President’s Men” and I have yet to find a review that argues against that noble acknowledgement. It’s a good old fashioned story about commitment, hard work, determination, fact finding and truth telling. The single most powerful image in the film contains no actors or scenery. It will leave your mouth agape and your heart dropping.