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Sunday, September 26, 2021

New movie Spotlight gets it right

(Left to right) Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes and Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll in SPOTLIGHT. (KERRY HAYES / OPEN ROAD FILMS)
(Left to right) Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes and Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll in SPOTLIGHT. (KERRY HAYES / OPEN ROAD FILMS)

The true story of how a group of journalists exposed one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions.

One of the best films of the year, Spotlight, is a spellbinding masterpiece and poised to be a favorite at this year’s Oscars. Director Tom McCarthy (Win Win, The Visitor, The Station Agent) presents a refreshing bit of cinema, void of the usual Hollywood gimmicks, that moviegoers have been seeking. Simply put, the film gets it right. Its subtle and enthralling take on investigative journalism will have you at the edge of your seat, while the story itself is powerful enough to leave you speechless.

Spotlight covers the true story of how the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigative team exposed one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions: the Catholic Church. By bringing the dark child molestation scandal to light, the Spotlight investigative team soon discovers that the system is corrupt from the top down. The film follows team members Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), as they dig deeper and learn more about the decades old cover-up, shocking the world as the truth is finally revealed.

The McCarthy and Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate) duo write an exquisite script, full of gorgeous detail and sophisticated dialogue. With one of the year’s best directorial efforts, McCarthy proves that less is more, focusing on the interaction between characters and the substantial buildup of evidence, fully aware that the story itself is captivating enough to keep the viewer engaged throughout.

Prepare to be stunned. McCarthy gives audiences an overwhelming feeling of shock and disgust throughout the movie as he details the profound guilt felt by every victim. He never wastes any screen time, and every scene feels just as essential and significant as the last. Without a doubt, Spotlight is easily his best work to date.

As far as acting goes, the performances of Ruffalo, Keaton and McAdams were unnoticeable — unnoticeable in the sense that the three actors were so convincing in their portrayals of their characters that it felt like they were the Spotlight team, not just actors reading playing parts. Spotlight is one of the rare films where the cast is absolutely perfect.

Despite this star-studded cast, all eyes are on Ruffalo as he unexpectedly outshines both the talented McAdams as well as Keaton, who is coming off of an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Ruffalo is a revelation, taking his character development a step further than his costars by adding in unique expressions and mannerisms that contribute to his superb portrayal of journalist Mike Rezendes. Ending on a high note, Ruffalo explodes and captures the magnitude of his outstanding performance through a single breathtaking scene that will leave viewers flooded with emotion, stamping his claim this year for an Oscar of his own.

The most powerful scene comes toward the end of the film, as Ruffalo’s character, Rezendes, on the outside looking in, visits the local church. As he gazes on, we hear a children’s choir singing the traditional Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” which symbolizes the repeated hushing of the child molestation victims. This was the scene that truly drove the message home and solidified Spotlight as a true work of cinematic art.

As difficult as it may be to predict a Best Picture winner, Spotlight surely makes a compelling argument. As astonishing as it is unsettling, it’s the must-see movie of the year that shakes your grip on reality and leaves you with more questions than you had coming in.

Spotlight is currently showing in theatres nationwide.

WRITTEN BY: David Park – arts@theaggie.org

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