When I first heard about the film Spotlight, I was a little bit unsure. Most films paint a clichéd picture of journalism; journalists attending VIP parties and digging for scoops… But when I learned that Spotlight had received 5 Oscar nominations and that it follows in a rich American tradition of investigative journalism films, I decided to give it a chance.
I was not at all disappointed, indeed I was pleasantly surprised. The adjectives that come to my mind when I think of this film are: humble, sincere, sober and magic. Everything is central to the main plot: the investigation. Here, no need to have a love story, a main character or a special effect.
The film is based on a true story, the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe investigation, which uncovered an unprecedented scandal in the Catholic Church. Over a 12 month period a team of journalists investigated rumours of sexual abuse within one of the world’s oldest and most respected institutions. The investigation revealed a city-wide, systematic cover up of abuse, sanctioned by the upper echelons of the church, and acted as a catalyst for a wave of subsequent revelations throughout the world.
A quest for the truth rather than a search for a scoop
The director, Tom McCarthy chooses excellent actors in Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Stanley Tucci. None of them try to be the star of the film. The journalists are not portrayed as knights in shining armour, but simply as people who work day and night and advance slowly but surely with their investigation. Tom McCarthy puts across an unfiltered image of the every day aspects of their jobs. This is far from the search for a scoop at all costs, but more a quest for the truth. The journalists are above all human beings. Gradually, as they discover the extent of the scandal of paedophile priests in Boston, emotions grow in them: anger, disgust, shame, fear, etc. Especially when they realise that the Church was aware of everything and not just let it happened, but actively hid it to protect their reputation.
The film viewers can feel the suspense as they get closer towards revealing their story. As a journalist and a human being, I felt ill at ease, angry and disgusted, exactly like the characters of the film. How something like that can happen in an institution, which proclaims the love of others and respect for moral values? These predators have destroyed entire lives, something that comes across clearly in the scenes where the victims are interviewed.