Patience is key in the world of investigative journalism, a fact highlighted in Spotlight, the brilliant biographical drama from director Tom McCarthy. The same man who brought us The Cobbler last year has certainly made major amends with this compelling drama that tells the true story of the revelation that shook the Catholic Church to its core.

When Marty Baron (Live Schreiber) was hired as the new editor of The Boston Globe in 2001, he discovered the Spotlight Team, headed by Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), a small group of investigative journalists who can take up to a year to publish a story, consisting of Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) and Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery).

After reading a column about a local Boston priest who was sexually abusing children and the Archbishop of Boston, who chose to ignore these crimes, Baron urges the Spotlight Team to investigate the story. Initially thinking they are investigating a one-off case, the team soon uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and the ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. 

Having spent a semester at university studying investigative journalism, I absolutely loved how Tom McCarthy told the story of this team of reporters who slowly start to uncover the horrific truth buried beneath the Catholic Church, piece by piece. McCarthy's film, co-written by Josh Singer, doesn't hold back when it comes to its sensitive subject matter; a story we may not want to hear but one that needed to be heard.

The shock of the revelations are really felt through the screenplay and the character journeys we see throughout, particularly that of Rezendes. I was left shaking my head at some of the truths revealed about the local Boston priests however, I was left open-mouthed at the facts that closed the film. I just could not believe the sheer scale of what had been uncovered.

Coming to the performances, Spotlight really does boast one hell of an impressive ensemble cast. Each of them work well with the screenplay from McCarthy and Singer, delivering good performances however, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton are the ones that really excel in Spotlight. Ruffalo picks up yet another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and is probably the main challenge to Sylvester Stallone, while Rachel McAdams really does earn her maiden Academy Award nomination in the role of Sacha Pfeiffer.

The score from Howard Shore impressed me as well. I really felt Shore captured the disturbing side of the investigation while also managing to emphasise the determined work ethic of the Spotlight Team. There's also an eerily brilliant use of the song Silent Night towards the end that deserves a mention.

It may not possess the cinematography of The Revenant or the heart of Creed however, Spotlight is an equally powerful and important film that has to be seen. I really do hope it walks away with the Academy Award for Best Picture come the end of this month.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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