I remember when this case broke, but not many of the details because I was rather young. I just remember that the Catholic church lost the trust of everybody. So it is rather fitting this film is called Spotlight, because it educated them on what actually happened.
This film is not a high-octane affair, and I am afraid that this will turn people off before they even begin. I feel that this movie’s trying to create a strong point and that it tries to tell the story as it happened, without glamorization. I am not that familiar with the real events behind the film, and I am sure there is Hollywood-sanitizing going on, but they do a good job at hiding it.
The writing is very strong here, as it took me three viewings to recognize an exposition dump. I tend to be super aware of these types of scenes and cringe at the “as you know” variety of scene. The info dump here just comes across as natural, because the editor of the Spotlight team is telling the new editor-in-chief about everything his team does. At the same time the viewer now knows what the Spotlight team does, which makes for a very efficient scene.
The movie moves at a deliberate pace, although some may say slow. Each scene is very important, moves the story forward and has information vital to the plot. If any scenes were extraneous it would be a slow movie, but it is written and edited efficiently so as to keep things intriguing.
The most striking thing for me is that there is no true antagonist. The first time I watched the movie, I expected it to condemn the Catholic church, and that the church would actively sabotage the article. There is a scene in particular when one of the reporters is talking to an ex-priest, and he tells the reporter that the church has a way of silencing people. Suddenly he is cut off by a knock on the door when one of the editors from the Globe stops by to talk. I thought for sure the editor would lean on him to stop the investigation.
Ultimately, the church does its best to slow down the Spotlight crew’s investigation, but it never does anything overtly antagonistic. The film does show that the church moved the predatory priests around because psychologists told them that the priests only needed therapy to stop the behavior. Also, the church falsely thought that the Men of The Cloth would mend their sinful ways, which only served to worsen the environment and spread the assaults further. So it was truly a failing of the Catholic hierarchy to not have a policy of punishing priests, but hiding it from the public. The film also shows how the community is at fault too, as victimized families were pressured to not embarrass the church.
I could spend all day discussing this movie but I want you, dear viewer, to watch this movie and I don’t want to spoil all of the reveals. Some may find this movie rather slow, but it truly is worth watching once. If you can handle a slower pace, this is nearly a perfect movie on just about every level.