After years of labour, actor-turned-indie-director-sensation Tom McCarthy brings to the screen the story of Spotlight, the investigative journalism team at the Boston Globe that uncovered one of the greatest paedophile scandals of our time.
When the new editor (Liev Schreiber) takes over in 2001, he notices that none of the church-related investigations are ever followed up and points all the Spotlight forces (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James) in that direction.
What initially appeared to be a serious local scandal turns out to be a widespread, institutional procedure in the church: every priest accused of molestation, instead of being expelled, is simply moved to another parish after a forced temporary sick leave.
Each time the team uncovers a further layer of truth, it’s difficult to establish who’s to blame: it all begins with a sick priest sexually abusing children from the city’s poorest neighbourhoods; then their parents – when they aren’t orphans – turn a blind eye; those who survive, and have the courage to contact a lawyer, end up fuelling this money-making machine because lawyers cut deals directly with the church, for small compensations, off the court channel.
Priests work in schools, and principals know; lawyers occasionally inform the newspapers, who just mention it in brief news. Why does no one stand up against them? It’s the church, and the church is Boston’s most powerful institution.
The Catholic community surely hasn’t done enough to tackle these recurring disastrous accidents, and the beginning of the issue probably lies in the very foundations of the religion: can human beings live a life of chastity without risking irreversible psychiatric conditions?
All the main cast members deliver a solid performance – in particular Stanley Tucci as the crazy attorney who helps unveil the key evidence.
The script is very journalistic in style – a lot of facts and very limited character development – and perhaps sits closer to a documentary than a movie. But Spotlight tells a story that everybody should know, even if simplifying its complexity into 120 minutes of cinema would have benefited from a more experienced writer and director (think of the Fincher/Sorkin duo).
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Spotlight is released nationwide on 29th January 2016.
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