Spotlight review

It may be the most flawless movie released this year

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Spotlight tells the unflinching true story of a detective news team working for the Boston Globe who uncovered a mass scandal based around child molestation by members of the Catholic Church, and a cover up conspiracy which proved to go deeper than any of the journalists could have possibly imagined.

Directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy who is a rather underrated auteur behind great works such as The Station Agent and The Visitor, and strangely the Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler, which  came out early last year and was a critical and box office flop. Thankfully McCarthy hasn’t lost his touch after teaming up with Sandler as he has achieved his best film to date with Spotlight, his direction is fluent and with this being a dialogue driven film there are no pacing issues whatsoever. Even though all of McCarthy’s previous films dabble in comedy, Spotlight is the polar opposite as it is an intensely dark drama, yet McCarthy is still able to keep his subtle style intact.

The main writing credit for Spotlight is Josh Singer who is commonly known for his writing credits on TV dramas such as Fringe and The West Wing, his previous work on TV does show through in Spotlight as it is quite reminiscent of The West Wing because of the amount of scenes shot in boardrooms and its non-glossy cinematography . However, with the help of McCarthy, Singer was able to create one of the most to the point and strict narratives put to screen this year. Unlike The Big Short Spotlight doesn’t rely on making sure it’s universally intelligible, its focus is on telling a story which overrules any incessant need to try and be as “comprehensible” as possible, because frankly the story is told in such a gripping way that you can’t help but be absorbed by the dark subject matter. There is never a dull moment because of the dialogue’s intensity and the use of minimalist music to help add dramatic effect.

As an ensemble every single performance given is great, Rachael McAdams is the most realistic she’s ever been and well over-exceeded expectations in her subtle yet pivotal role. However, the stand out performance is by Mark Ruffalo who plays an almost socially introverted character in terms of his mannerisms, yet the amount of passion that he brings to the role is phenomenal.

Something that I noticed that puzzled me is the way in which the sound was recorded. There was a certain tinniness to some of the characters voices especially in scenes with heavy amounts of dialogue, this may have just been the speakers in the cinema but it sounded like some of the dialogue was recorded on the sort of microphone journalists and reporters often carry around with them. If this is the case then it is a fantastic little easter egg which gives obvious reference to the journalists and creates an better sense of realism.

The film is so perfectly crafted that there are very few problems even worth criticizing. The only issue worthy of noting is that there is limited back story for all of the members in the Spotlight team apart from Rachael McAdams and Mark Ruffalo’s character. In turn this means we can only really focus on these two characters because there is no background knowledge on any of the other members on the team, therefore we aren’t as invested in them as we could be.

Spotlight is a riveting feature with an outstanding ensemble performance, and is undoubtedly the best movie based around journalism to date.


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