Directed by Tom McCarthy
I grew up going to a Catholic school. In my second (or third) year, the principal of the school (who was also a priest/’father’) suddenly retired for no specific reason at all. This was mere days after a group camp for those in grade seven arrived back home. The principal had travelled with them. No one was certain, but the timing of his retirement was extremely coincidental, not to mention sudden and without warning. Eventually, rumours began circling around the school.
A few years after I had left the school (untouched, thankfully) stories began to surface, speaking of priests abusing children at the school I went to. I wasn’t shocked, especially after the sudden disappearance of Father Martin, but finding out about the depth of it all, how far these secrets were buried, it was beyond my comprehension at that time.
After these events, it comes as no surprise that Spotlight is a powerful film. Despite it all being a true story, and despite it all being common knowledge, I found myself riveted by the teams hard working investigation, and not knowing the precise details of the case, I was consistently blown away by each nugget of information uncovered as the case became bigger and increasingly widespread.
The ensemble cast are fantastic, paired with a script that powers the story forward. A misstep in either of these areas could have led to a dull movie, but thankfully both the dialogue and the acting are excellent from top to bottom. Especially touching are the actors who play victims of abuse – they deliver their stories with such emotion that it feels real. I could feel for each of these people, which was important in engaging me in a story I already knew the basics of.
As the team talk to more victims, exposing more emotionally powerful stories, it becomes obvious just how horrid the entire situation is. It is this strong acting that really lends power to this film. The main cast are great, especially Mark Ruffalo, but without solid back up this film wouldn’t have worked as well as it does, and there isn’t a single member of the cast who doesn’t perform well.
The other important piece that made this movie is the script. The lines delivered are very close to perfect, and there is not a single wasted line – not a wasted word to be found. If a character is talking, it is important and/or interesting and it is this consistent, intriguing dialogue that maintains the film’s momentum. It almost feels like a re-enacted documentary, which I suppose it is in a way, but in that regard it was incredibly believable.
These priests involved deserve to be castrated – and don’t think that because this story is from 2002 that this has come close to stopping. Far from it, paedophilia will hopefully raise awareness further, and we can only hope that these disgusting people are thrown in jail. Unfortunately, given the power of the Church and The Vatican, I can’t see that happening, which is a damned shame.
These are sick men who prey on the lonely and the poor; children often from broken homes who have nothing else in life. is rife in my city of Adelaide, and many other places, but of course no one wants to admit anything. No one wants to do what Spotlight did. It is easier to allow these traumatised children be thrown into the government system, where they will spend a long time, than to mount an official investigation.
That it is still a problem today is what makes this film so important.
Finally, I must thank Anna from Film Grimoire, whose review of this film alluded to the problems that are still apparent down under. This article is an unfortunate account of yet another priest ignoring the sick, depraved acts of his colleagues. Thanks for the link Anna!
Half a beer short of a sixer!