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Spotlight  : The Church In The Dock
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Friday, February 12, 2016
Thriller
Tom Mc Carthy
Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber

For believers, it’s almost as if God resides in liturgical vestments. And so, pointing a finger at the clergy is most times equated with blasphemy.


For decades, that well-entrenched fervour and the combined might of the Roman Catholic church accounted for an alarming number of paedophiles in the clergy to go unreported. With the church simply recycling these deviant priests from parish to parish, child abusers in religious garb turned recidivists with impunity, repeated offenders who went unpunished.


When Marty Baron takes over as the new editor of The Boston Globe, that’s the story he wants Spotlight, a team of investigative reporters, to research. But going after what has been swept under the pews for years, hits the expected roadblocks. The Globe’s own subscriber base is substantially Catholic. High-profile lawyers have turned child abuse into a lucrative cottage industry by settling between the church and the victims’ families. The courts have either no record of such settlements or they’re deemed sensitive and classified, there is no paper trail. Families are too caught in a religious bind to let their children go on record. A homosexual admits that as a child, the priest was the first person to tell him it wasn’t a crime, so that made him a terrified but willing victim.   


The magnitude of the crime and cover-up by the church and its allies who are men of authority, startles the Spotlight team as a pattern emerges. And the scribes go after the system, uncovering a crime that goes back to the 70s and incriminates over 200 priests with more than 1000 victims.


It’s an important piece of journalism for The Globe, an important story for society to respond to, and an important cinematic work that deserves applause.


Like Trumbo which exposed intolerance of a different political ideology, Spotlight is also an Oscar nomination that indicts America’s religious hypocrisy. As the editorial team discovers, it was a story that one of their own had also buried and left unexposed years ago. 


Liev Schreiber who recently played chess champ Boris Kasparov in Pawn Sacrifice adds screen presence to the role of editor Marty Baron. But it is the Spotlight team that stirs the plot and keeps it bubbling, with Mark Ruffalo as doggedly determined journo Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer as his colleague Rachel and Michael Keaton as his senior.


Importantly, director Tom McCarthy’s film is not anti-church, it is anti-crime.


For a vital story that impacts society and its children, Spotlight gets a 3.5* rating.    

  

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

 

 

 

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