‘Spotlight’ — tough story, great film

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The best bit about my eldest’s determination to see every film that’s had an Oscar nomination (and I’m not talking just ‘Best Picture’ here) is that I’m getting to go to the cinema a lot more than I usually would.  True, I had to sit through ‘Star Wars: Return of the Hope Awakens in the Jedi Force’ (or something like that), but I’m also getting to pass the popcorn during some brilliant ones.

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This weekend, it was the turn of Spotlight – the true story of the Boston Globe’s exposé of the abuse of children by Catholic priests in Boston during the 70s and 80s which, in turn, led to revelations of the same all around the world.  Not the cheeriest topic, to be sure, but a brilliant film.

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It’s a very old-fashioned story in a lot of ways.  A small group of dedicated people take on the secrecy and corruption of a massive institution – battling away at the culture of secrecy.  And it makes for a great thriller – or more like a detective story.  Only with journalists.   And an absolutely heart-wrenching search for the truth.

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The cast is seriously good.  Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton get top billing – with Ruffalo up for a ‘Supporting Actor’ Oscar – but Rachel McAdams (‘Best Supporting Actress’) and Brian D’Arcy James, who make up the rest of the paper’s Spotlight team are equally good.  And Stanley Tucci is superbly grumpy and committed as the lawyer working with some of the victims.

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One of the interesting comments my eldest made on the way home was that it’s a shame that there’s isn’t an Oscar for ‘best actor with a little part.’  He was particularly impressed, and I have to say I agreed with him, with the performances of some of the actors playing the victims that the team contact – in particular, Joe, the first one that Rachel McAdams meets.

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It’s not an easy film to watch.  It’s gripping and brilliantly-done, but the subject matter is undeniably difficult.  And questions of blame are handled with some serious nuance.  (Can’t say more – spoilers and all that – but really, it’s very well done.)  It’s the sort of film that starts conversations, as it well, should, and raises questions that need answering, even if that’s not easy to do.  I can see why it’s made the nominations, and I’ve now got my fingers crossed that it makes the winners list.


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