Review of "Spotlight (DVD)"

published 26/01/2017 | thedevilinme
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"Yet another average Oscar issues movie boxticker winner?"

Spotlight (DVD)

Spotlight (DVD)

Star – Mark Ruffalo
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 128 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Oscars – 2 wins & 4 nominations
Awards – 116 Wins & 130 nominations
Amazon – £5.00 DVD £7.25 Blue Ray
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So ‘Spotlight’, the winner of Best Motion Picture at the 2016 Oscars, not the standout film of the year by any means (that’s the Big Short) but the one that box ticks all The Academies requirements of an ‘issues movie’ winner, mass abuse by the Catholic Church beginning to replace the perfunctory holocaust movie in the nominated films list these days.

The film title is named after the Boston Globe ‘Spotlight’ investigative journalism team who uncovered massive historic (and present day) sexual abuse by Catholic priest in their city, winning the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for their efforts. By the time the Boston Globe broke the scandal, the National Catholic Reporter had already been reporting the abuse within the church for seventeen years (while other much bigger news outlets had refused to look at it) and so director Tod McCarthy’s film more about the Churches cover up than the timing of the expose. Needless to say the Catholic Church were no best pleased wit the film coming out but said it was ‘fairly accurate’ on events.

Originally the paper thought there was the odd pedophile priest here and there, the so-called ‘bad egg’, amongst Americas thousand sand thousands of Catholic priests. But the investigation revealed far more and a systematic denial and cover up in the Church going right up to the Vatican to protect the faith by hiding the pure number of disgusting deviant priests, in some cases sent to far flung postings abroad, in other cases to another active church in America where they inevitably carried on abusing. Its believed around 6% of all priests in the Catholic Church could be classed as pedophiles. There are 420,000 out there in the world today. Do the maths. 1100 had been defrocked around the world by 2014 from 3400 cases of child abuse cases investigated.

Why so many pedophiles are attracted to the church is more down to how both parties operate than any sort of belief in God. To a child the holy man is the least likely person in the world to abuse them and so they trust him/her 100%. And if they do abuse you its Gods will, right, and who are you to defy that, why these priests are so venal and disgusting. The church is also a haven for another contradiction, homosexual men. At Ireland's foremost priest training center based in County Kildare, the college had to issue a missive to tell priests to stay off ‘certain social media’ as it was creating an ‘atmosphere of promiscuous sexuality’ that would be ‘inappropriate’ for seminarians. Many of the young men had accounts on the gay website Grindr. Why the heads of the colleges were looking on Grindr is another question that needs to be answered, you would think. It’s estimated that 33% of US priests are gay and the AIDS rate is four times higher in Catholic priests and Bishops to the general public ratio in the United States. Some statisticians have it as high is 57%. I am not drawing comparisons between pedophilia and homosexuality. Don’t get me wrong, around 70% of pedophiles are classed as heterosexual and so clearly a deviant genetic heterosexual issue.

-The Spotlight Team-

Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
Michael Keaton as Walter "Robby" Robinson
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr.
Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll

-Additional characters-

Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing victims of sexual abuse
Gene Amoroso as Stephen Kurkjian, Boston Globe general investigative reporter
Jamey Sheridan as Jim Sullivan, an attorney representing the Church
Billy Crudup as Eric MacLeish, an attorney representing victims of sexual abuse
Maureen Keiller as Eileen McNamara, Boston Globe columnist
Richard Jenkins as Richard Sipe, psychotherapist
Paul Guilfoyle as Peter Conley
Len Cariou as Cardinal Bernard Law
Neal Huff as Phil Saviano of SNAP
Michael Cyril Creighton as Joe Crowley
Laurie Heineman as Judge Constance Sweeney
Tim Progosh as Principal Bill Kemeza

The film begins in 1976 at a Boston Police station. Two cops are discussing the arrest of a Catholic priest for child molestation, a high ranking cleric talking to the mother of the children. The Assistant DA then enters the precinct and tells the cops not to let the press get wind of what happened. The arrest is hushed up, and the priest is released. That was how it was done back then, the Catholic Church all powerful.

We flash-forward to 2001 and The Boston Globe has hired a new editor, the lugubrious and stern Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Baron meets the editor of the papers ‘Spotlight’ team, Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), in his office with the door closed. Baron is a hatchet man and there may have to be cuts. What does Spotlight bring to the paper? He wants results and an eye catching story to boost ratings.

Baron has read a previous Boston Globe column about a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), who says that the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou), knew that a priest, John Geoghan, was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him. Baron urges the Spotlight team to investigate and drop what they are doing now. It will be that test to see what they bring to the paper.

Spotlight Journalist Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) contacts the rambunctious Garabedian, who doesn’t want to be interviewed by the Globe as they ignored him before over the same stuff. But Rezendes reveals that he is on the award winning Spotlight team and persuades Garabedian to talk as he knows they will get the real story out. Initially, the team believes they are just following that one bad egg who was moved around several times and that was the story. But the team begins to uncover a worrying pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. The lawyers appear to have been paying off the victims to keep it quiet.

Phil Saviano (Neal Huff) heads the victims' rights group ‘Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ (SNAP), ignored for far too long in his mind but a survivor with lots of testimonies and evidence for the paper. Spotlight listen to him this time around as he opens up and they widen their search to 13 priests. They learn through Richard Sipe (Richard Jenkins), a former priest who worked at trying to ‘rehabilitate’ pedophile priests in special centers, that statistically there should be approximately 90 abusive priests in Boston as he claims six percent of all priests are physical child abusers. The team is startled by that number. But through diligent research, they develop a list of 87 names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions. A key document denied to the public is the key that could bring down the whole Catholic Church, not just a Boston problem now, and it will soon be public record.


The problem with this film is we already know the story and even if we didn’t we could guess it and so the forensic side falls flat. This film doesn’t outrage as we know this is what some priests do, and always have, the church a sanctuary for pedophiles and deviants. It’s probably the same in the Islamic and Jewish Church but we are scared to go there, a prospective film that won’t be winning any Oscars any year soon. With serious issues movies in Hollywood often respected and revered before they are even made there tends to be a need to reward them, however average. Spotlight is only just above average as an engaging film. There is no revelation here and merely about the process of film making and journalism of the team. It doesn’t have an emotional heart to pull you into the debate and the investigation is played out with a certain disconnect, this about getting the job done rather than the director asking you to feel for the victims. I think we all have Catholic friends who had a bad experience with their priest when they were young but that seething anger is not present when you watch this, the same way it isn’t over the historic sexual abuse stuff with showbiz people we are seeing in the United Kingdom. My friend told me she was held down and pinned to the floor when she was just 10-years-youNg by her priest in the family home and he slobbered all over her. She told her mom but she did nothing either. As we have seen with Islam, people are often as scared of their church as they are in awe.

The Boston accents are terrible, Ruffalo sounding like he has Marlon Brando’s cotton wool in his cheeks from The Godfather (yes, Marlon Brando had cotton wool in his cheeks all the way through that film), Keaton’s not much better. Rene Zellwegger’s English one in Bridget Jones remains the best accent ever by an America in film.

For its $20 million budget it did $80 million back and so considered a success but winning Best Picture clearly helped. This is not All the Presidents Men. Its one of those Oscar films you are going to quickly forget about but feel obliged to watch. You can’t say that about The Big Short, the more complete and entertaining movie of the year. Fair play for tackling the subject matter but I think this stuff was done much better in the film Doubt, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep, who argued the semantics of sexual abuse through suggested pedophilia in Hoffman’s character. In my mind anyone dumb enough to be devotedly religious is more susceptible to abuse in their church and accepting its word and only truth seems crazy to a rationale mind. Abusing kids though who can’t defend themselves is the most heinous crime of all and they should be left in a room with Donald Trump and his thugs for me to learn their fete.

RATINGS – 8.1/10.0 (242,435 votes) – 96% critic’s approval – 93% critic’s approval


Special Features

-Uncovering the Truth: A Spotlight Round Table –

We meet the real Spotlight team who chat about their experiences of the scandal. The 1st Amendment in the US Constitution protects religion as it does the people and so pedophiles were allowed to hide behind that. Some interesting debate here.

-Spotlight: A Look Inside-

The actors talk about their time on the film

-The State of Journalism-

All concerned talk about the state of journalism today when its al about entertainment over fact and fact checking, gestating this year with the arrival of Reality star Donald Trump in The White House. The truth no longer matters.


South China Morning Post –‘Spotlight appears to tick all the boxes as far as the true-life awards-season investigation drama goes... It makes a few choices you aren't expecting, though, and I can't figure out whether or not this elevates it’.

Sight & Sound –‘The uniformly strong ensemble cast largely avoids any grandstanding moments, and manufactured drama is swerved, while Howard Shore's sober score is applied with restraint’.

The Mail –‘Tight and beautifully paced, McCarthy works the film as a thriller despite the audience knowing how it all plays out’.

London Evening Standard –‘How rare is this? A true story so much worth the telling that it needs no embellishment, no sideshow?

Finnacial Time s-‘As a press-exposé procedural, Spotlight has a verve often worthy of All the President's Men.

Washington News –‘The subtle, egoless performances by the cast frees the audience up to invest in the facts of the story, which McCarthy insists take precedent over the characters.

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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 29/01/2017
    e :o)
  • LiveMusicLoverLyn published 28/01/2017
    Most interesting and shocking too
  • ravingreviewer published 27/01/2017
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Product Information : Spotlight (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 15 years and over

Production Year: 2015

Actor(s): Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci

Director(s): Tom McCarthy

Video Category: Feature Film

EAN: 5030305520182


Listed on Ciao since: 23/04/2016