Shining Light In Different Places: Spotlight Review


Gabi Dykema, Staff Writer

In 2001, Spotlight was a team of journalists working for The Boston Globe that were tasked with small scandals up until they uncovered one of the biggest modern day scandals happening in Boston that uncovered the misconduct of Roman Catholic churches around the globe. There is no better way of putting it than saying that it was like David fighting Goliath. Spotlight’s editor and three journalists start out investigating one priest that is facing charges from years ago. As the team digs deeper, however, we soon see that it’s bigger than just the one “bad apple” priest, and the number of Boston priests connected to Cardinal Bernard Law grows.

If you think knowing the outcome of the movie will spoil it, guess again. Spotlight follows the team through every lie they uncover on a twisted, unsettling rollercoaster that shows what the team is truly up against. They aren’t just battling perverted priests or even the cardinal that was protecting them, they were up against the fear that victims faced when speaking out against something that they had been raised by. It’s something that their friends and family would see as turning against their faith.

The Spotlight team may be the only ones racing to uncover what is truly happening, but that doesn’t make them anywhere near perfect heroes. While most of the team had grown up Catholic but had slowly drifted away for a brief period, Spotlight’s editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) grew up at a religious school involved in the scandal. He even still plays golf with the Cardinal’s right hand man and other friends that have a strong presence in the church. He receives immense pressure from them to leave this case alone. In an attempt to connect the cases together, he tries to get information from his best friend who went to school with him. He happens to be a lawyer who has worked on many of the cases but is still refusing to help the team. Robby asks him why he isn’t doing anything about it when he knows something is off, and his lawyer friend fires back by asking why Robby didn’t do anything about it years ago when they knew something was going on.

The trail of deceit doesn’t end at the church or the lawyers, however. It’s soon revealed that The Boston Globe had been sent pieces of information that could’ve helped them solve this case years ago, but fearing that their readership, which is 60% Catholic, would suffer, they buried the lead. It isn’t just Spotlight’s editor that’s scathed by what they must do, though. All three journalists suffer the consequences of dredging up something that they know will change their religiously-based lives forever. Mark Ruffalo plays Mark Rezendes, a Spotlight reporter who finds himself deeply immersed in searching for the truth, from interviewing reluctant lawyers to running through courthouses searching for files. While Rezendes admits he hasn’t attended church in a while, he admits to holding onto the hope in his back pocket that he’d return there someday. Mark Ruffalo has the performance of the century portraying Rezendes, a hard-hitting reporter who loses his faith while chasing the story, brilliantly displaying the grief that many members of the church suffered in the wake of such tragedy.

Nothing in Spotlight is pretty, whether it’s the flawed characters each fighting their inner battles of responsibility, grief, and faith; the communities that ignored it; or the scenery. But how accurately the film makes Boston look, the characters and the psyche behind the scandal that rocked the world made this a film that truly takes viewers inside the minds of Boston. Spotlight’s unnerving scenes that are deeply emotional for many viewers tell the story of accountability and truth that must be told, no matter how painful, in a way that won’t be easily forgotten.