Spot on

If you haven’t seen Spotlight, get ye to your local cinema. Powerful, crisp and calmly gripping storytelling.


IN 2002, The Boston Globe published a series of Pulitzer-scooping articles that exposed child sexual abuse cover-ups rife in the top tiers of the city’s Catholic hierarchy. It was the work of ‘Spotlight’, a crack team of investigative journalists that worked with heroic determination to bring justice to the countless victims of some 90 paedophile priests. The articles caused dominoes of clerical crime to fall across the US and beyond.

With taste, restraint and clear-headedness, director Tom McCarthy documents the saga immaculately. Marty Baron (an excellent Liev Schreiber) is the joyless outsider editor who courts anti-­Semitic murmurings when he assigns Spotlight to follow up on abuse claims. The team led by Walter ‘Robbie’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) gets to work. Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) liaises with the victims’ attorney (Stanley Tucci). Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) interviews victims themselves. Robinson presses lawyers and clergy chiefs for movement, both on the fairway and at the bar counter. An irrefutable argument for long-form journalism is made.

Process, procedure and exposition define the narrative, but this Oscar hopeful is full of the quiet detail and thematic nuance that grant it classic status. There is no arch villain cackling in the shadows. No gory flashbacks and no all-American grandstanding.

The cast is an impressive ensemble, but Spotlight‘s genius is in its calmly urgent take on events. In doing so, it makes them all the more sobering and gravid.

Compulsory viewing.


First published in the Sunday Independent


Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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