Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo shine in Tom McCarthy's 'Spotlight'

"Spotlight." (Open Road)


4.5 out of 5 Stars
Tom McCarthy
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Genre: Biography, drama, history
Rated: R for some language, including sexual references
Recommended to: Anyone with any interest in a behind-the-scenes look at the endangered species: the investigative journalist.

Synopsis: The true story of how the Boston Globe's Spotlight team uncovered the child molestation scandal cover-up by the Catholic Church.

Review: Never has the collapse of real investigative journalism felt as heavy as it does walking out of "Spotlight." In an age when instant news is the soup du jour, there is very little room and even less money for a story that takes months of research and extensive interviews, I can't help but wonder how much is getting swept underneath the carpet.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

"Spotlight" is a fantastic film with a phenomenal cast and the sort of true, heart-wrenching story that sticks with you after you leave the theater. Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton) heads Spotlight, a group of investigative journalists who write for the Boston Globe. His team includes Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James). Ruffalo's sublime performance as Rezendes carries the bulk of the work done by the supporting characters. This gives less to McAdams and James to work with, but their subplots provide a sense of context that neither Keaton's nor Ruffalo's conveys.

The subject matter is heavy, to say the least. It's made all the heavier by the actors who play the victims of sex abuse. Each offering a different take on the emotional damage the abuse has caused. Between the leads, supporting characters and all the way down to the smallest of roles, "Spotlight" is one of the finest-acted films in recent memory.

I knew bits and pieces of "Spotlight's" story, the uncovering of the Catholic Church's handling of hundreds of abuse cases taking place in the Boston area and how Boston was just a microcosm of a widespread issue that had gone unaddressed for decades (if not much longer), but seeing how it was uncovered and the lengths that the Catholic Church took to try and keep it from being brought to light was far more informative and ultimately had a greater impact on me. The awful nature of what occurred and how widespread that it was just in Boston is mind-melting. It will shake you.

I expect "Spotlight" to be one of the darlings of the Academy Awards with multiple nominations, including Keaton, Ruffalo and writer/director Tom McCarthy.

Follow Ryan on Twitter for more entertainment and movie news: @ryanMpainter.

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