Review of "Spotlight (DVD)"

published 10/10/2017 | CelticSoulSister
Member since : 25/10/2009
Reviews : 1413
Members who trust : 231
About me :
Pro Fairly well-acted, one or two parts of minor interest
Cons Drags, not exciting enough, too many characters
Did you enjoy it?
Characters / Performances
Special Effects

"Exposing Boston USA's priesthood"

RELEASED: 2015, Cert. 15

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 2hrs 8mins

DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy

SCREENPLAY: Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy

PRODUCERS: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin & Michael Sugar

MUSIC: Howard Shore


Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
Michael Keaton as Walter Robinson
Live Schreiber as Marty Baron
Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.
Gene Amoroso as Stephen Kurkjlan
Billy Crudup as Eric MacLeish
James Sheridan as Jim Sullivan
Paul Guilfoyle as Peter Conley
Michael Cyril Creighton as Jow Crowley
Laurie Heineman as Judge Constance Sweeney
Jimmy LeBlanc as Patrick McSorley
Tim Progosh as Principal Bill Kemeza
Stanley tucci as Mitchell Garabedian



After a case where a Catholic priest was arrested – then freed – for child molestation in 1976, Spotlight leaps forward in time to 2001 where Marty Baron, the new editor of the Boston Globe, wishes the Spotlight section of the newspaper (which is made up of a team of investigative journalists) to unearth as much information as possible on the hushed up allegations that various Catholic priests had been abusing children as far back as the 1960s, as he strongly wishes the identity of the perpetrators to be uncovered, with a view to them being re-charged with the crimes they had committed.

The rest of the film follows the Spotlight team’s efforts at tracking down as many of the sexual abuse victims as possible and to interview them, plus bring forth into the public eye the magnitude of the levels of child molestation which had been going on for many years, and hushed up/hidden, with the guilty priests still being allowed to continue with their work.

Marty Baron and his team are met with varying levels of opposition towards their work, but they continue with enthusiastic resolve, even surprising themselves with what they managed to discover about the incidences of historic sexual abuse inside of the Catholic church in Boston, USA, in that the problem turns out to be far more widespread than previously thought.


Based on real events, Spotlight is a semi-biographical film whereby I do have a vague memory of seeing on the news and reading in newspapers of how more than 90 members of Boston’s Catholic priesthood were ‘outed’ as, over a period of many years, they had sexually abused hundreds of children.

At first I found Spotlight rather slow and couldn’t quite get to grips with what was going on, simply because the setting up of the investigation bored me as it had too many strong elements of business wheeling and dealing about it rather than an earnest group of investigative journalists being led by an even more earnest new manager, pulling all the stops out in order to expose what the Catholic church in Boston had gone to great lengths to hide for many years.

Almost forty minutes of the film plodded on before I had even the vaguest spark of interest flicker around in my brain, but from then onwards, things did get a little better.

The music throughout is reasonably pleasant, being soft piano which is quite poignant in parts, very much gentler than Howard Shore’s usual offerings when composing film scores. There are fairly large stretches within Spotlight where there is no music, but when it does happen, it isn’t at all invasive or badly placed. If I were to criticise it at all, I’d say that it slightly sugared up the proceedings whereas I’d like it to have been a little more dramatic, but not intrusively so.

All of the acting from the whole cast is surprisingly good, and it is impossible for me to choose a favourite as everybody’s input was maybe not what I’d deem as Oscar standard, but certainly more than acceptable.

However, even though the interest levels perked up (albeit only slightly) at around the 40 or so minute mark, Spotlight as a film for me lacked sparkle. Everything is put across in a far too matter-of-fact way to the point where it largely is quite a colourless film that I personally feel, bearing the subject matter in mind, should have contained far more oomph. It is presented very much in the format of an American TV crime drama, and I don’t think this style to be at all suitable for a cinema film which is biographic and deals with a highly emotive topic.

The parts I probably enjoyed most of all were various interactions between the Spotlight staff and two or three of the victims who’d been abused in childhood, but now are middle-aged. Bringing these characters into the film did push it a rung or two up the ladder, as it gave me a little something to get my teeth into, but other than that, for me it turned out as a whole to be a rather wordy affair. The verbose aspect isn’t difficult to understand, but most of the conversations which take place aren’t all that interesting and lack punch.

Even though the follow-through is seamless, I still had the feeling I was watching something rather scrappy, yet I’m not sure what the director could have done to dispel this syndrome. I am wondering if he took into account how Spotlight as a film would present itself when watched by an audience of viewers – or, perhaps he did but maybe his idea of what is engaging, exciting and possibly even moving, is different to mine.

I needed to see a bit more drama, a bit more emotion, a bit more power and a bit more shock value rather than the feeling that I was idly watching one of those American TV crime dramas. The potential within this true life storyline is there to turn Spotlight into a respectable blockbuster, but it just didn’t do it for me as there was so much missing from the arena of power, passion and feeling.

Another thing which dulled my enjoyment levels of Spotlight was that there are far, far too many characters and from the outset, I wasn’t sure which people I should be focusing on and remembering, and which it was safe to forget.

As to whether the presentation of Spotlight as a film is accurate when held up to the real events, I can’t say as although I vaguely remember when it all happened (in 2001 – I remember it was just after the 9/11 terrorist attack that year when the scandal hit world news headlines), I have little or no recall of the details so I’m unable to make comparisons.

Perhaps this is a film which needs a bit of a makeover to create something more penetrating, as the nuts and bolts are there but I feel largely weren’t executed anywhere near as well as they could have been, resulting in my enjoyment/appreciation levels being not absent, but modest.

Would I recommend Spotlight as a film? I’m hovering, but when push comes to shove I’d say no, not really… least it didn’t light my fire, but then I suppose I can’t speak for other people.

My star rating rests in the ‘satisfactory’ field as although it certainly isn’t what I’d deem as a bad film, but it isn’t particularly good either, the overall results being nothing out of the ordinary. I do seem to be out on a limb as a very brief scan through IMDB and Amazon reviews show them to be contrary to my own opinion in that most people feel Spotlight to be a brilliant film – I’m afraid I can’t put it into the category though where the ‘wow factor’ surpasses any other biographical film of a similar nature.


At the time of writing and on Amazon, you can pick up a new DVD copy of Spotlight for as little as £3.33, rising to a maximum of £21.12. There appears to be only one used copy currently available at £1.99. Standard delivery charges should apply.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 16/10/2017
    e :o)
  • ryeb published 13/10/2017
    Well reviewed.
  • kat123456 published 12/10/2017
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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