Review of Spotlight

Spotlight (I) (2015)
In the tradition of 'All the Presidents Men'
24 December 2015
The story begins when a new editor, who isn't Boston Catholic, joins the Boston Globe and suggests looking deeper into one case of child rape. Indeed he is reading up the Red Sox, which is perhaps the second religious organisation in Boston. The culture is not to question authority figures - not the Church, not the lawyers who colluded, not judges who helped suppress information, not the police who didn't resist and the journalists hesitate to make enemies. The intimidation is sinister because these men have been confident in their seat of power.

'Spotlight' is the title of a 4 person team of investigative reporters in the Globe and perhaps beyond the basic story, the movie underlines the importance of the Fourth Estate. If all reporting was based on Twitter or Instagram, important news that people want under the carpet will never see the light of day. This kind of reporting is expensive but is a social good we NEED.

Once the team began to really investigate, the scale of the problem was slowly revealed. 6% of priests abuse children. People who knew (nurses, physicians, police etc) kept their families safe but it was the children of innocent parents, who couldn't imagine depravity, who suffered. The story looks at the pathology and the system the church employed.

These characters are not fleshed out, partly because there are 6+ while we felt we knew Woodsein and Ben Bradley after 'All the Presidents Men'. The story also addresses how the journalists might rebuild relationships with friends, family, their church, their confidence as professionals, having missed the story for so long. Stanley Tucci has perhaps the best lines 'The Church thinks in centuries' and that's right. In Ireland the even argued they were in the right, based on Cannon Law !!!

Richard O'Rourke has a small but significant role as a shockingly, disturbed and creepy priest. Great casting! He takes his few lines and turns them into gold, demonstrating the horror, without actual graphics.

This movie is not a thriller - there are no meetings in garages, no fear that the CIA or FBI would take them out (although there is a concern about other papers getting a scoop). The church didn't need to resort to those excesses. They knew the threats to reputations and financial security carried weight.

The Catholic Church has establishments all over the world and what happened in Boston was one of hundreds of stories. 'Mea Culpa' is the documentary that looks deeper into the Vatican. Nobody is fooled - these priests are now in Haiti and other countries where children are vulnerable.
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