(out of 5)

A new editor takes over the Boston Globe and tells members of “Spotlight”, a team of journalists who do deep work on long research projects, that a story has come up that he thinks they should pursue. A Catholic priest accused of multiple cases of sexual abuse against children in his parish could possibly have been protected from legal repercussions by a Cardinal (), the plaintiffs in the case represented by a magnificently eccentric lawyer ().   is powerful as the head of the Spotlight team who sends out his reporters ,  and  to interview victims and experts and gather material for a big story that they will eventually print, while at the same time the newspaper files a motion to have court-sealed documents made available to the press. What these many players discover is a morass of lies, cover-ups and years of criminal activity as the story comes to eventually cover almost eighty perpetrators of abuse and the evidence that keeps piling up against them. The goal is now to go further than just accusing individual men of crimes but to take on a system that covers up scandals in the name of protecting the authority of the church and, in doing so, has caused damage to so many lives. Tom McCarthy’s deeply involving drama is a great story about an interesting period in the newspaper business, when the internet had not yet withered journalistic integrity but the crumbling financials of the print business means that these writers don’t have touchy editors constantly micromanaging their work or fearfully asking them to back off a subject that could endanger an important aspect of the city’s economic or political structure. In fact, the ease with which these reporters find their subjects (victims or perpetrators alike) and the relatively few conflicts involved mean that McCarthy is challenged to make it all dramatic:  given that the entire thing was achieved through intelligent assemblage of information and not heated confrontations, McCarthy has to find the pace somewhere, and he does so in ways that are often successful and sometimes not. It’s wonderful to see a film that doesn’t add a kind of thriller glamour to a story that took place in the real world, with ugly offices and realistic conversations absorbing you more than heated courtroom confrontations or invented violence. That said, McCarthy gives the film too many of its hotter moments by presenting theories and emotions with the same conviction that he presents facts (Ruffalo, who is about as ridiculous as Keaton is controlled, is an egregious example of this). The noble pursuit of quality journalism is focused on and celebrated, but one gets the feeling that McCarthy, whose The Visitor is still one of the most unintelligent, manipulative pieces of tripe in the last decade, resents having to bow to such legitimacy when he’d rather be focusing on everyone’s feelings. McAdams is the best performance in the film after Keaton but, for some insane reason, her character is reduced to sympathetically listening to other people’s problems while rarely getting to contribute anything of her own. The upside is that McCarthy very ably includes as many facts and issues as are necessary without letting it ever feel bloated or messy: Boston’s strong Catholic presence (that the editor of major newspaper is Jewish is pointed out quite a bit), class divisions and facts of various cases going back many years make the film’s two-plus hours go by very quickly and are streamlined very neatly. The fact that the film is not either All The President’s Men or The Killing Fields does not mean that it is either forgettable or light; the conclusion that we arrive at, in which we are forced to face our own culpability in these matters instead of pointing fingers at easy, evil targets, is deeply satisfying and makes the film well worth watching.

, , ,

USA, 2015

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Screenplay by , Tom McCarthy

Cinematography by

Produced by Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Music by Howard Shore

Production Design by Stephen H. Carter

Costume Design by Wendy Chuck

Film Editing by Tom McArdle

Film Festivals:  TIFF 2015, Venice 2015

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, ,

Academy Awards2015

British Academy Awards:  2015

Golden Globe Awards:  2015

Screen Actors Guild Award
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Rachel McAdams)

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards
Best Picture
Best Screenplay

National Board of Review Award
Top Ten Films

New York Film Critics Award
Best Actor (Michael Keaton)

National Society Of Film Critics Awards
Best Picture
Best Screenplay

Best Director (Tom McCarthy)

Writers Guild Award 
Best Original Screenplay


Independent Spirit Awards
Best Feature
Best Director (Tom McCarthy)
Best Screenplay
Best Editing
Robert Altman Award

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film (Tom McCarthy)

Toronto Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Picture
Best Director (Tom McCarthy)
Best Screenplay, Adapted or Original

Boston Film Critics Awards
Best Film
Best Screenplay
Best Ensemble Cast

Best Director (Tom McCarthy)
Best Film Editing




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