WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW:
SPOTLIGHT tells the story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who exposed the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals in Boston and then around the world. It focuses on the newspaper’s “Spotlight” reporting team, which handles the newspaper’s most extensive and complex investigations. At the beginning of the film, team leader Walter “Robby” Robinson is having dinner with the new editor-in-chief. Marty Baron. Focusing on downsizing, Baron tells Robinson to get his team to find a hot story quickly or risk being cut. The team soon encounters a man who leads a group of Bostonians who claim to be survivors of sexual abuse. As reporters investigate these and other stories of abuse, the investigation takes a personal toll on their emotional and spiritual lives. SPOTLIGHT is an extremely well-made and impressive film. It shows the hard work of investigative journalism and the effects a depressing story can have on those who report it. The creators handle a difficult topic with maximum taste and discretion. That said, SPOTLIGHT has a lot of strong, gratuitous profanity, so extreme caution is advised.
(BB, Ho, Ab, C, LLL, V, SS, MM) A strong moral worldview about uncovering evil and uncovering the truth in the true story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who investigate child/teen abuse and cover up allegations at a local Catholic church a diocese that has turned out to be a global problem, but the police and the Globe itself have also been involved in a cover-up, with some insinuations of homosexual abuse, plus some reporters describing themselves as “lapsed” Catholics with several The Church and the men who run it are further they shut down after reporting some gruesome findings, and one reporter says he’s a Presbyterian; 51 or more obscenities and profanities, including many “f” words and some strong profanity towards God and Jesus; numerous references to priests who raped or molested or sought oral sex from boys and one girl who grew up psychologically and emotionally damaged and now seeks justice (the descriptions are quite broad and generally a bit graphic and the film doesn’t wallow in its perversity and often fades when victims tell their stories of abuse); no nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or drug content; and the cover-up of sexual abuse by clergy involves the police and one Boston Globe editor, not just the clergy, and the editor tells the investigative team they’d better find a hot story or risk being fired.
SPOTLIGHT tells the story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who exposed the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals in Boston and then around the world. SPOTLIGHT has a strong moral worldview extolling the uncovering of evil and uncovering the truth, but contains plenty of strong profanity and verbal references to the abuse that has occurred, although not extremely graphic or lewd. SPOTLIGHT deals with a major exposé of the Catholic Church in Boston and beyond in the early 2000s, focusing on the “Spotlight” news team as they tackle the most extensive and complex investigations. As the film opens, team leader Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) is having dinner with new editor-in-chief Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber).
Focusing on downsizing, Baron tells Robinson to get his team to find a hot story quickly or risk being cut. The team soon encounters a man who leads a group of Bostonians who claim to be survivors of sexual abuse. They claim that they were victimized by a particular Catholic priest as children. The man claims the newspaper ignored his evidence five years ago, but Baron is new and wants the Spotlight team to investigate the allegations. However, they are asked if they are Catholics or have a bias against the Church, and all four say they are lapsed Catholics. One is now a practicing Presbyterian, while Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) considers herself lost but occasionally takes her devout grandmother to mass.
Robby and Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) nonchalantly note their fallen state. Despite their fallen state, the film portrays the reporters as objective and unbiased. They make no anti-Christian or anti-Catholic comments throughout the film, making it clear that the problem is caused by the men in the church and not God himself. As reporters try to track down other abuse survivors and the priests accused of harming them, the investigation takes a personal toll on their emotional and spiritual lives.
[SPOILER ALERT] For example, Sacha excuses herself from taking Grandma to church and leaves her to fend for herself. Meanwhile, Michael is having the hardest time, breaking down one night and saying that he always felt bad when he left the Church and wanted to go back to Mass, but now he feels betrayed almost as much as the abuse victims. END OF SPOILERS.
Spotlight on Christian Entertainment
Interestingly, SPOTLIGHT doesn’t just show the Catholic Church’s abuse of this matter and the cover-up, it also shows that there was a whole culture of corruption and cover-up in Boston, Everyone was afraid to accept an institution that was considered to represent God. The only church official who comes out very negative in the details is the former leader of the Boston diocese or church government, Cardinal Law (Len Cariou). Law is shown to be dismissive of the issue and refuses to comment on the Globe team’s investigation, even though they find records that show he assisted in a cover-up that went all the way to the Vatican. SPOTLIGHT is an extremely well-made and compelling film that shows the hard work of investigative journalism and the effects that a depressing story can have on those who report it.
Director and co-writer Thomas McCarthy has previously made acclaimed films such as WIN WIN and THE STATION AGENT, as well as the ill-fated disaster THE COBBLER, but he handles this film and its difficult subject with the utmost taste and discretion. The film focuses on the moral corruption of dozens of priests and their senior leaders. It ends with a shocking list of other cities in the US and around the world where similar scandals were quickly exposed after the Boston scandal was revealed. That said, SPOTLIGHT never seems to have a heavy agenda. Filmmakers seem to be saying that even the darkest corners of history deserve a movie. As such, SPOTLIGHT does it as well and impartially as one could hope for. In the end, only six percent of Boston priests (87 priests in total) were charged, leaving 94 percent still not involved in abuse. However, the film mentions an estimate that 50 percent of Catholic priests believe they break their vows of celibacy, but most of these allegedly broken vows involve women.
Spotlight on Christian Entertainment
By the way, the problem is sin and it must be remembered, as we at MOVIEGUIDE(r), that there are bad mothers, but motherhood is good, there are bad fathers, but fatherhood is good, there are bad people in various churches, but the Church is good and the Body of Jesus Christ and the bride of Christ and much more. So uncover the sin and remove it, forgive the penitent and pray for all involved.
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