Spotlight Film Review

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Admittedly, it is very easy to criticise modern media with its rampant commercialism, celebrity gossip stories on the most mundane things imaginable and its questionable representation of migrants and ethnic minorities. Believe me, it’s what I’m studying for my degree. But what I feel we need to realise is while our modern media may be dominated by large corporations with money as their sole ambition, in the foreground are the journalists, the people just doing their jobs. Isn’t it about time we received a quality film on how media and journalism can be a force for good in our society? Well Spotlight is just the film we've been waiting for.

Telling the true story of the Boston Globe’s team of journalists and their investigation into a wide-spread child molestation scandal within the Catholic Church, Spotlight has gathered some serious buzz during Award’s season to the point where many (including myself) see it as the frontrunner for Best Picture. And I would be very happy in seeing Spotlight pick up that Golden Statue as it is an engaging and immersive theatre experience that emotionally creeps up on you from scene to scene.

While Spotlight’s main competitor for Best Picture The Revenant may shine due to the spectacle attached to it via director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s brilliant style, Spotlight shines because it does the exact opposite. Here, director Tom McCarthy purposefully holds back on this project allowing the drama and emotional weight of the plot to come to centre stage and what rises to the surface is an over-arching need for justice for the victims of this scandal. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Revenant as much as the next man, but Spotlight proves that any movie can be entertaining with a tightly written screenplay and well fleshed out characters leading the line.

On top of this the acting performances are all very good across the board. Michael Keaton proves that Birdman was no one-off and Rachel McAdams continues to impress while choosing some very good projects. But stealing the spotlight (pun intended) in this film is Mark Ruffalo. Like the rest of the cast, he is both subdued and nuanced in his role. But his take as his character was truly magnificent culminating in one particular monologue that was so impactful and so authentic. He’s definitely worth his Oscar nom.

However, Spotlight isn’t a mind-blowing movie which demands repeat viewings, and that, combined with its slow pacing and sporadic attempts to stall the progression of the plot, is why I can’t quite give it my highest possible praise. Regardless, it’s still a quality film and a very rewarding viewing experience. The acting is great across the board, the screenplay is tightly written, and McCarthy’s direction keeps the plot and the drama at the forefront. I can’t honestly say I’d recommend this to everybody, but if you’re someone who appreciates quality filmmaking, Spotlight is definitely a film for you to seek out.

4/5 stars

Matt Harrison lives at Liberty Cambrian Point in Cardiff. He is studying Journalism, Media & Sociology and is in his 1st year at Cardiff University.

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