Writer-Director Thomas Mc Carthy has a hit on his hands with the searing and sizzling ‘Spotlight,’ the true story about the hidden sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic priests in Boston. This film exposes the abuse of youngsters and details how the Church, attorneys, government officials, and prominent figures covered it up for decades. It was through the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporting by the Boston Globe ‘Spotlight’ reporters that this abuse and cover-up was exposed and brought to the public’s attention. Some eighty Roman Catholic priests’ actions were hidden under the blanket of the Church. Thomas Mc Carthy and Josh Singer wrote this compelling screenplay. The film is up for eight Critics’ Choice Award Nominations including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor- Mark Ruffalo, Best Supporting Actress-Rachel Mc Adams. It has three Golden Globe Award Nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. The New York Film Critics’ Circle has selected Michael Keaton as Best Actor.
‘Spotlight’s’ revelation changed the way the public viewed Roman Catholic Priests and brought closure to many of the victims. The disclosure of the 80 priests in Boston was but the tip of the iceberg. Stay to watch the credits roll, and you will be astounded by the long lists of cities in the United States and then the lists in other countries where this abuse and cover-up has taken place. This is a chilling expose. And, it is so well-written, directed, and acted by the ensemble cast. It was spellbinding and riveting.
The cast stars Michael Keaton as Walter ‘Robbie” Robinson, editor over the Spotlight group of reporters, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes,a lead reporter, Rachel Mc Adams as reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron, the new overall editor-manager at the Globe, John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr., Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll, Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, attorney for the victims, Len Cariou as Cardinal Bernard Law, Billy Crudup as Eric Mac Leish, attorney for the priests, Neal Huff as Phil Saviano, an abuse victim who heads up a support group, and Jamey Sheridan as Jim Sullivan, attorney for the Catholic Church. The supporting ensemble cast did a phenomenal job as well.
New Editor, Marty Baron assigns the investigative Spotlight reporters, headed up by Robbie, to delve into the story behind pedophile priest John Geoghan. That investigation leads to the team uncovering a possible thirteen priests who have sexually abused children and a cover-up by the Church, their attorneys, the government, and civic leaders. Phil Saviano heads up a victims’ rehab group and had turned the information in to the Boston Globe years ago but nothing was done. The box of materials he had sent over was dismissed. Now, Baron tells the team to find the story. An ex-priest turned psychologist, Richard Sipe says that thirteen priests is merely the tip of the iceberg. He estimates it is more like ninety priests. And, it is a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up, not just in Boston but it is widespread. As a former priest, Sipe has made this his specialty and life mission. Sipe, whose conversations we hear over the phone, was the compelling voice of actor, Richard Jenkins
Who slipped up at the Boston Globe when Saviano had sent the documentation? Was it an oversight or deliberate? As the team investigates, seems these cases never even made it into the court system. Mac Leish, the attorney for the priests, arranged to pay the victims a pittance in settlements for their silence. What was the punishment for the priests? Cardinal Law merely transferred these priests to other parish’s, and some were sent to treatment centers. The police were not notified, and charges were not pressed.
The attorney for the victims, Garabedian, with a superb performance by Stanley Tucci, tells Rezendes that once he had filed his motion with documents, these documents became public record and should be available in the court documents. But they are not. They were stashed away. Even the court can be bought by the Catholic Church. Seems people want the Spotlight team off the story, when they get too close to uncovering the truth that the Church had kept under wraps. We are left to speculate who at the Globe did not want the story told years ago? Who at The Globe might be stalling it now? Will the Judge rule in favor of the First Amendment and grant the documents to be made public? Will the missing documents that Garabedian had already made public show up? This was such suspenseful writing!
Robbie and his team leave no stone unturned. They question the victims and get the astounding proof they need. Investigative reporter, Sacha Pfeiffer, finds and questions a priest who admits he molested boys but since he did not get pleasure from the act, it absolves him in his mind. Hah! The documents show that the Roman Catholic Church had full knowledge and merely relocated the abusive priests and granted payoffs through their attorneys. The legal system protected the accused and not the victims. Those victims not only were abused sexually; they were abused spiritually. Many were from poor communities and single parent households. The church was all they had faith in. When they lost faith, some turned to alcohol, some to drugs and some committed suicide. None got out unscathed. But, the priests did. The outrage is shown in particular by Mark Ruffalo’s character, Rezendes when he confronts his boss Robbie. That arc was so real and fantastic.
This was a thriller of a true story which had the audience at the edge of their seats as the events of the cover-up unfolded dramatically. There are some stellar performances in this tautly directed, well-written film. This cover-up had to come out. I highly recommend this film. Check your local theater listings.