Review: Spotlight (★★★)

3 stars

Spotlight handles such a taboo subject that I was sceptical when I started to watch it, however; it does it in such a tasteful way that it elevates the movie to make it even more shocking. It feels almost like a documentary and that works only in its favour making the story feel all the more factual.

Spotlight is set in 2001 and is based around The Boston Globe’s uncovering of a major scandal in the Catholic Church. More and more priests are found to have been molesting children that the Catholic Church have been aware of for a large amount of time. When the scandal expands to reach further than Boston, and even America, it makes the events even more disturbing.

This movie is a frustrating watch. The pace is slow, but that is only due to how long it takes to go through legal proceedings, but this doesn’t come to the detriment of the movie as you can see this frustration in the characters too. There are these low shots looking up at towering churches that sent a shudder down my spine, symbolising how high this goes as well as how unreachable the church actually is.

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The entire cast gives wonderful performances that feel genuine and honest. They react exactly how you expect them to with subtle looks of disbelief and stress as they uncover more of the scandal. It was nice to see Michael Keaton again, after last year’s Birdman, showing a determined and direct role that lifts the movie out of some of its slower moments.

Despite all this praise the movie has big faults. I understand why the movie has the pace and direction it has but that doesn’t detract from the fact that every piece of information that was given to me wasn’t shocking. This is me personally as I was more surprised by how few priests were originally suspected. I’ve not read the story but I am fully aware of the shady stuff that the Catholic Church has done in the past. This made the story drag and feel like it went on much longer than its 2-hour runtime. The movie doesn’t patronise you when it comes to using unfamiliar terms, however, this led me to become disinterested fairly early in the movie.

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Spotlights best elements are present towards the end of the movie, the pace and the plot speed up enough for you finally to be able to see an end goal, one which is not obvious from the start.

Spotlight has its moments and is definitely worth a watch if you’re interested in the story. It just felt bland. It doesn’t do anything exciting or new, it was just a historical drama about a thing that happened. The frustrating nature of the movie leads to me being more pissed off at the movie than I should be, and that’s not to do with the subject matter. Who knew a movie about paedophilia would be uncomfortable, but not in the way you’d think.

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