‘Spotlight’ A Masterclass Of Understated Ensemble Storytelling | Film Review

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‘Spotlight’ A Masterclass Of Understated Ensemble Storytelling | Film Review



This is the definition of an ensemble piece. This Oscar front runner allows the discovery of this horrific true story carry the film. The story itself is the main character.


Director Tom McCarthy has made a career of making films where an outsider arrives as a catalyst for change. That is ignoring his most recent work, the Adam Sandler mess, The Cobbler.


The catalyst for change in this film is the Boston Globe’s new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber, a Jewish non-baseball fan. The first thing he does is set the newspaper’s investigative team, Spotlight, led by Micheal Keaton, to re-examine what the Catholic hierarchy knew about possible child abuse by priests, and any cover up.


Every actor in this film is at the the top of their game. Each character subtlety conveys the gravitas of the story, including moments of realisation that they were part of the problem. The great performances are too numerous to mention.


There is only one moment of so called “Oscar grandstanding” by Mark Ruffalo. This moment is like a pressure release as the extent of institutional child molestation becomes apparent. Ruffalo deserves his Oscar nomination as he embodies the character completely. At no point are you watching Ruffalo or the Hulk, you are watching the workaholic and passionate Mike Rezendes.


The moment leading up to this passionate explosion and one other as the team gather for a shocking telephone interview, define the film. Both moments have the camera holding deadly still as it pans slowly out revealing the team’s reactions that mirror your own, as the disturbing truth via letter and telephone are revealed.


The film has an understated still nature that makes even photocopying a high stakes task. This film highlights the ludicrous nature of the awards season. Comparing this film to The Revenant or saying one film is better than the other is not possible. There are completely separate entities and a masterpiece is their own way.


Leonardo DiCaprio‘s amazing standalone performance cannot be compared to this amazing ensemble. The stunning visual artistry of The Revenant cannot be compared to the stunning understated workmanship of Spotlight.


Both films deserve to be seen at the cinema for completely different reasons. You will never sit in a cinema and experience a stunned silence like in Spotlight.



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Lyndon Wells

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