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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

Spotlight (2015) movie review

Spotlight on Scandal

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movie poster, Spotlight, Festivale film review ; 220x319

Movie poster, Spotlight
Break the Story. Break the Silence.

Based on 30 years of research: 50% of all priests have had sex with an adult. 6% have had sex with a minor.

A film that makes a serious effort to truthfully tell the story of the Pulitzer Prize winning investigation. This is the story of how journalists in a Catholic town investigated allegations of sexual child abuse and the systemic efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to conceal it, moving instead of removing offending priests.

"... as of 2002, the incidence of pedophilia in the Catholic Church was around 6%, which is in line with the general population...The efforts by some members of the church to cover up the abuse is what makes it perhaps significantly more tragic.

- Catholic Church abuse victim Phil Saviano interviewed by Bill O'Reilly

When Boston Globe's new editor Marty Baron said he wanted the Spotlight team to follow up the story on child abuse by the clergy, he wanted the team to look at the system, not necessarily individual priests. Boston was a particularly sensitive area because the Catholic Church is such a political power there.

The church had shuffled some of the predatory clergy from parish to parish to help prevent their crimes from being exposed

- Walter Robinson in an interview with

Spotlight is a newsroom drama, it follows a long-form journalism investigation that takes the time to do the research, find and interview victims and perpetrators, and petition the courts for sealed documents.

Maybe this doesn't sound very exciting, but Spotlight is a compelling drama. Without histrionics it shows the toll on victims, the horror and heartbreak of the journalists, and the tired, endlessly working lawyer.

Hours later I wanted to see this film again. I can't wait until it comes out on own-your-own. It is compelling. Flawlessly paced, beautifully acted, brilliantly written in an understated style that sneaks up on you.

This is a movie about people, and an issue, and as an aside it makes the audience wonder what we might lose if this type of long-form investigative journalism is lost.

Movie still, Spotlight, Festivale film review; 500x333

Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) in a scene from SPOTLIGHT, directed by Tom McCarthy.

This is not Michael Keaton's first newsroom drama. He was excellent in The Paper. His editor Walter Robinson in Spotlight is a different man. but just as determined.

There has been a lot of noise about The Revenant, but this is the film about trial and struggle. This is the film that will haunt you. Spotlight is the clear example of the best of the filmmaker's art.

Go see it.

Festivale Flick Pick; 80x80
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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 28 Jan 2016
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.
See also:

See the trailer

History vs Hollywood on Spotlight

The story behind the story by the Boston Globe

See more films to be released in Jan 2016

Just the facts:

Title: Spotlight (2015)
Written by: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (scr)
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Running time: 128 mins
Rating: TBC

The Players: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

Official website:
IMDb entry

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