DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SPOTLIGHT (director/writer: Tom McCarthy; screenwriter: Josh Singer; cinematographer: Masanobu Takayanagi; editor: Tom McArdle; music:  Howard Shore; cast: Mark Ruffalo (Mike Rezendes), Michael Keaton (Walter "Robby" Robinson), Rachel McAdams (Sacha Pfeifer), Liev Schreiber (Marty Baron), John Slattery (Ben Bradley, Jr.), Brian d'Arcy James (Matt Carroll), Stanley Tucci (Mitchell Garabedian), Billy Crudup (Eric Macleish), Paul Guilfoyle (Pete Conley), Jamey Sheridan (Jim Sullivan), Len Cariou (Cardinal Law), Neal Huff (Phil Saviano), Jimmy LeBlanc (Patrick McSorley), David Fraser (Jon Albano), Laurie Heineman (Judge Sweeney ), Michael Cyril Creighton (Joe Crowley), Elena Wohl (Barbara), Eileen Padua (McAdam's granny); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Micheal Sugar/Steve Golin/Nicole Rocklin/Blye Pagon Faust; Open Road; 2015)

"You couldn't ask for a better ensemble cast to be in this important, well-researched, well-written and well-made film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tom McCarthy ("The Cobbler"/"Win Win"/"The Visitor") is writer-director of this amazing nail-biting investigative dramatic-thriller on the Boston Globe's investigation into the allegations of long-time abuse in the Catholic Church and against the powerful pedophile enabler Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) of Boston. The director follows his worst film with his best. Josh Singer is the co-writer, who along with McCarthy deserves praise for turning out such an engaging screenplay.

In this fact-based drama on the misconduct of priests, the Globe's team of Spotlight reporters, headed by the respected and popular Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) and his three reporters: the young passionate workaholic go-getter Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), the data researcher Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James), and the quietly driven Sacha Pfeifer (Rachel McAdams). They are all lapsed Catholics who go after the bad guys and never stop even when they run smack into the powerful Church trying to stop its investigation with threats of payback. They do so on the urging and blessings of their new bachelor outsider Jewish editor-in-chief from the NY Times, the subdued but intense Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). The film also points out that the Globe missed a chance to go with the abuse story as far back as 1993, when they received good tips about the abuse from credible informers, but chose instead to bury the story. This shook the confidence of the vics if their crushing story would ever get told.

You couldn't ask for a better ensemble cast to be in this important, well-researched, well-written and well-made film that tells the story right and never waivers in showing how devastating the crimes and cover-ups were to the faithful followers of the Church and the concerned public. The investigating journalists won the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2002, the Boston Globe had the nerve to challenge the Catholic Church and in a damning expose publish an eye-opening series of articles about the decades-long scandal of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, involving 70 local priests, more than 1,000 victims and the evil part played by Cardinal Bernard Law in covering up the crimes.

Supporting cast include Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup as vic lawyers, who respond differently to Church pressure. Jimmy LeBlanc, Neal Huff and Michael Cyril Creighton are colorful as abuse survivors. Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery) is the concerned managing editor of the paper.

It's the finest newspaper film since Citizen Kane. That's saying a mouthful because since the 1930s there were many great films in the newspaper genre, including All The President's Men (1976).

REVIEWED ON 12/8/2015       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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