By William Wolf


Newspaper investigations can lead to exposing rotten-to-the-core behaviors, as was the case in the Boston Globe’s unmasking the hiding of pedophilia by Catholic priests. “Spotlight,” directed by Tom McCarthy from a screenplay he co-wrote with Josh Singer and showcased at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, is an exciting account of the real-life investigative reporting by the Globe. In some ways, the film is reminiscent of the kind of reportage depicted in “All The President’s Men,” which dealt with Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

The film provides another good role for Michael Keaton, who plays Walter “Robby” Robinson, leader of the investigating team, which also includes characters enacted by Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James. The drama that unfurls reveals bit by bit the prevalent corruption.

When priests are accused of child abuse, the pattern is to move them to another parish rather than see that charges are brought or at a minimum, that they are expelled from the church. Instead, the powers that be want to conceal the sexual criminality. As the investigation progresses, the reporters shoot for getting to the very top of the conspiracy, and therein lies the suspense.

Doing so would not only provide a good story but contribute to the need to put an end to the abuses and make the church take action against the culprits. How successful was the effort?

The film, set in 2001 Boston, is based on real events. An effective portrait is painted of newsroom operations and the city landscape, as well as of church machinations. The cast members, main and supporting, give excellent performances, and “Spotlight” stands as a very special film about both journalism and the Catholic church. Posted October 4, 2015.


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