Spotlight refuses to leave victims in the dark

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Spotlight refuses to leave victims in the dark

By Facebook user Hollycool

By Facebook user Hollycool

By Facebook user Hollycool

By Facebook user Hollycool

Sharyn Gladstone

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In what has been a rather dismal year for film, Open Road Films’ “Spotlight” stands out as the first serious awards season contender. Its star-studded cast and riveting screenplay are sure to grab a great deal of attention and praise in the coming months.

The film is based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning Boston Globe investigation that exposed the Vatican’s decades-long cover up of sexual abuse on minors within the Roman Catholic Church that sparked worldwide outrage.

Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton (“Birdman,” “Batman”) is superb as Walter “Robby” Robinson, editor and overseer for the Spotlight team. He maintains a watchful eye over the Spotlight team, wanting the story to be told the right way. He is tough-tongued, but will bury his opinion and turn laconic in times of need during the investigative process. Don’t be surprised to see Keaton nominated again this year for his compelling portrayal of Robinson, as he delivered a challenging and strong performance.

To actually get to see our actors (Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James) go through the motions as the Globe’s real Spotlight team of journalists is a breath of fresh air. So many films are so quick to tell their audiences what was done to gather information, while “Spotlight” actually shows us what the team of investigative reporters had to go through to obtain their story.

The reporters spend a year digging through thousands of documents, old newspaper clips and archives in the basement and storage units of the Globe, interview victims, and ceaselessly attempt to unseal sensitive documents that will help to prove allegations of molestation made against local priests.

The team works with Phil Saviano (played by Neal Huff), leader of SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — and lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (the always flawless Stanley Tucci) to gain access to victims and attempt to get them to reveal their stories. The dialogue is honest and authentic. The actors portraying the team are sensitive and attentive to the victims, asking if they can take notes and use their names.

The interviews are portrayed with a unique sensitivity that most films lack. The actors’ portrayals of the abuse victims are gut wrenching, gripping, and unforgettable. The dialogue of their revelations is eloquent with honesty and bravery.

You will feel angry listening to the lurid descriptions of what they’ve been through, but thankful that these victims were brave enough to speak up. Not everyone gets to tell their story. These people spoke up, contributed to this investigation, and helped draw attention to their cause. There are no flashback scenes or montages, rather you are looking at the victims as they speak. You see who they’ve become.

The film’s score is primarily composed of simplistic piano tunes that perfectly encapsulate the melancholy and disgust felt by the victims as well as the journalists as they uncover these secrets.

It was refreshing to hear real Boston accents in the film rather than the tuneless interpretations that Boston-natives have longed to rid from Hollywood.

Cut-away shots and aerial views take us over various parts of the city. We get to see where the victims lived and still live, in some cases, in proximity to their churches.

Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy (“Win Win,” “The Visitor”) delivers a gritty and emotional film that draws attention back to the journalist genre of film that has been lagging in recent years. “Spotlight” is a high point in McCarthy’s career, which includes a 2009 Academy Award nomination for his Original Screenplay, “Up.”

For “Spotlight,” expect to see McCarthy’s name listed as an awards season favorite amongst some of the most prominent in film this year for his direction and writing, along with co-writer Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”, “The West Wing”) and actors Keaton and Ruffalo, whose powerful portrayal of Michael Rezendes was some of the best acting Ruffalo has ever done. He and Keaton are forces to be reckoned with, their performances powerful and packed with the minutiae of their characters.

The film doesn’t shine a light on its journalists. They are not portrayed as heroes, but rather as ordinary people, just doing their jobs. We watch as they become immersed in writing their story the right way, a way that can serve as a step forward for the victims and allow more to come forward with their ordeals.

By the time the credits roll, you will be moved. You will be angry leaving the theater as the film leaves you with the thought of how many parishes around the world have been hiding secrets of abuse.

This film is not about the Spotlight team. It’s about the story they broke, and the brave victims who came forward to contribute to it. “Spotlight” is an unforgettable film that will make you want to stay out of the dark.