Here is a film that will leave you morally stirred but at the same time overwhelmed by its courage. Consistently unblinking, Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” is a non-sentimental biopic about investigative reportage: speaking out what’s hidden in a sense that something is not supposed to be hidden if there’s nothing wrong with it.
The film takes its viewers in a realistic period setting in Boston, 2001 where its characters (a team of investigative journalists from The Boston Globe) are mostly engaged in long discussions in a newsroom and go places for persuasive inquiries to fulfill their work. Suppose that’s yawn to sit through? That’s unlikely in McCarthy’s vision. Stealthily compressed into a two-hour length, there is not a scene made just to be a random get-through to add time to it, all scenes is essential to its wholeness, and there’s intensity in it. It was executed without having the need to make it feel big, the way it should be. That’s actually what made it great because despite that, it was hugely engrossing.
With its star-studded casts, it is quite amazing how they greatly downplayed their performances. They did not steal each scene with their popularity and Hollywood trademark; they made sure that their roles are behind the story and their characters’ ethics. They appeared as real journalists only doing their job, living their lifestyle inside and outside the newsroom and so on.
Oftentimes, films with heavyweight subject matters tend to get explained so murky that makes it too alienating. But with “Spotlight,” the storytelling is laboriously precise that it can still hitch up a natural sense of humor every once in a while. It guides its audience in every step of the investigation its characters try to unfold while its momentum is kept progressive.
If you are familiar of its subject matter, you’re going to want to see how it all went down. Its subject matter, which talks of child molestation cases against some Catholic priests, was tackled objectively, using gathered facts to support the allegations. The film doesn’t choose a side. Although told without restraints, it has no strong opinion of the issue and its portrayed real-life characters. It’s presenting an already answered connect-the-dots. What’s left to be done is to analyze whether the direction it has gone through is a right or a wrong move. And this film is only a channel that runs it.
In the end, it’s really about journalism, showcasing the power the profession holds and how they do it by the book in exposing truths for the sake of the public. That is what also made this film spot-on educational, how they accurately explored the grounds of good journalism.
It is unmistakably one of the best films of 2015 and certainly recommended not to be missed.
Spotlight is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Solar Pictures. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.