The shuffle of papers drives Spotlight. Notes are furiously scribbled on pads, documents are constantly pored over, and the full, horrifying extent of the central story is revealed in the newspapers. It’s an important story that doesn’t feel important (something Truth unfortunately succumbed to). It may not be the most exciting set-up in the world, but when you have such a stellar cast and the director of masterpieces like The Cobbler behind the movie, it’s bound to be good.
Really, though. McCarthy does a full 180 from his panned Adam Sandler movie, delivering a suspenseful, intriguing script that avoids sensationalism yet still manages to have a big impact. Like the story itself, the movie feels small at first, and there’s an intimacy to be found here even giving the wide-reaching implications of the story. That’s one of the draws of the film: its ability to simultaneously zero in on a group of journalists just doing their jobs and critique the broken system (including the Globe itself) that fostered a culture of silence.
Those journalists are played extremely well by an absolutely stellar ensemble. Mark Ruffalo rightfully gets first billing, and his portrayal of Michael Rezendes is the most showy performance in the film (but in a good way). This is a movie without a true main character, focusing on the team and giving us very little in the way of personal stories. That’s not really a fault, though, because the movie’s main focus is the process, the story. The people are part of this process, and it’s a difficult–yet fascinating–one to watch.
-I did not mention the rest of the cast, but it is undoubtedly a great one. Most of them underplay extremely well; in particular, Tucci and Crudup do a great job of conveying the way their lawyer lenses intersect with the emotion this story brings up. Aside from that you got Schreiber, Keaton, McAdams, Slattery, and more. What could go wrong?
-This was a really great Q&A. It wasn’t as fun as the Room one because Brie Larson, but it was miles better than the Brooklyn one I attended. McCarthy and Singer were both interesting to listen to, and they talked a lot about how they spent a ton of time researching in Boston, about how they spoke to every person we saw in the movie. McCarthy wanted to make it clear that the film is not “anti-Church”; these things happened, and he just wanted to convey the story behind it. Also, the audience happened to have someone who actually arrested some priests in New York, so it was a cool moment when he got to speak (those priests were eventually assigned to alcohol treatment centers). Finally: I found it very entertaining that the interviewer conveniently left out The Cobbler from McCarthy’s filmography when introducing him.
Photo credit: Spotlight, Open Road Films