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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Spotlight | Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Len Cariou | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Spotlight | Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Len Cariou | Review

Spotlight is the name of the Boston Globe’s four-person investigative team that was responsible for bringing the Catholic priest pedophile scandal, its vast scope in victims and in years, to light in 2002.  January 6th, to be exact, which, coincidentally, is the Feast of the Epiphany.

Starting with a mandate from new Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) the team set out to effectively sue the Church for sealed legal documents regarding lawsuit cases against priests, some going back as far as three decades.

The team is comprised of reporters Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James.) and editor Walter V. “Robbie” Robinson (Michael Keaton).  They methodically request sealed documents, interview now-grown victims, and follow a paper trail of euphemisms in annual Church directories, where words like “sick leave”, “reassigned”, and “other” are found to be code for “This priest has (ahem) a problem.  Move him – until there’s a problem again.”

The highest ranking Church official in the diocese, Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou) meets with Baron and suggests that their two institutions “work together.”  Baron declines, and the Spotlight team diligently and relentlessly research and review facts, unlocking secrets and encountering massive resistance from just about every other institution they contact.

The head of a survivor’s group and an ex-priest (now psychiatrist) provide chilling, almost unbelievable statements as the reporters close in upon the systemic abuse that had been allowed to flourish while high-ranking clergy, law enforcement and legal entities either turned away or became indirectly complicit.  The team even finds out that the Globe played a role in underreporting the issue, even though damning evidence had been submitted to them on several occasions years before.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) reluctantly asks one of the abuse victims he is defending in lawsuits against the Boston archdiocese to speak with Rezendes.  Reporter Matt Carroll finds that a “treatment house” for clergy pedophiles is a block away from his house.  Sacha Pfeiffer confronts a retired priest before his sister slams the door in her face.

 “Robbie” Robinson pressures attorneys (Billy Crudup and Jamey Sheridan) to break the code of silence that had protected the priests for decades.  Deputy Managing Editor Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery) supports his team the way his father, Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee supported reporters that broke the Watergate scandal in 1972.  Here, the title would be All the Cardinal’s Men.

Through it all, the viewer feels like part of the Spotlight team’s quest, overcoming obstacles, discovering disturbing revelations, and experiencing legal and ethical triumphs, all the while waiting for a long-dormant volcano of suppression and denial to erupt.  

Ruffalo’s Rezendes has a short but powerful outburst that encapsulates all of the rage and betrayal that has been buried for so long, on behalf of the victims, himself, and just plain decency. Schreiber captures Baron’s deadpan gravitas impressively, while the entire ensemble cast does remarkable work in bringing the story-behind-the-story to the screen.

Director/writer Tim McCarthy (The Station Agent) along with co-writer Josh Singer (The West Wing) crafts an intelligent and riveting portrait of diligence and integrity in the face of abused power, hypocrisy, and organized cover-up.

(Don’t) bless me, Father, for YOU have sinned.

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