Venice Film Festival: Spotlight (2015) – United States

Venice Film Festival: Spotlight (2015) – United States

Reviewed by: Andrew Chan

Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Produced by: Steve Golin, Michael Sugar, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Faust
Written by: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Starring: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber

Reviewed at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival

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“Spotlight” is an intriguing, gritty and controversial film about the cover-ups of the Catholic institution in child abuse and harassment by priests. What is wonderful about this film is that it stays true to its one principle to pursue the truth in investigative journalism and showing the hardship, difficulties, and the odds that journalists face throughout this journey. Director Tom McCarthy have managed to weave a magic and life onto a story that is likely to offend half of the religious western world, but instead the audience are mixed in an inferno of sadness and out crying emotions for in search of justice for these often neglected and helpless children. The victims in this case are startlingly real as it could well be the person next to you, your own child or even yourself. One of the best lines in the film comes in the form of Mark Ruffalo, who used to think that he will one day go back to church, not because it was good for him, but for the sake of hanging on to some sort of hope in this world. He simply breaks down when he realise how this false sense of hope, no longer exists and the reality of the church is almost unimaginable.

Michael Keaton gives one of his best display in recent years as the head of “Spotlight” department at Boston Globe. His steady head, restrain and mixed emotions on this case juxtapose perfectly with the rash, real, emotions outpouring of Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is given the most juicy role and the scene where he simply let it all out, is one of a masterpiece and sensationally done. Liev Schreiber plays the new Jewish boss of the paper and as they say sometimes, it takes someone from the outside to see things differently. Rachel McAdams is wonderful as usual in her persistent for the truth.

All in all, “Spotlight” simply works because it doesn’t try to show too much apart from the reality and facts. The film focus on the difficulty of the task on hand and the characters being thrown into the situation, in turn allowing “Spotlight” to strike a neat cord with the audience. We feel for the children, the victims and indeed this is something far bigger than the church itself. It is about the basic respect between humanity, the breach of trust for something in authority and power, which goes back to the cliché; “with greater power lies greater responsibility.” It is a sad reality that this can happen in the modern world and the fact that it is not just a few bad apples within a grand scale of things, but rather an institutional matter of concern. Debuting at Venice, this is a brave and controversial film for the country of the Roman Catholic. However, as far as the Oscar radar is concern, this is another one to look out for.
(Reviewed at 72nd Venice International Film Festival 2015, September)

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