Spotlight *** is probably my favourite for awards glory this year. Not that it’s outstanding or ground-breaking in any cinematic way. It’s just a very solid, almost stolid piece of work that builds and builds its hugely important case.
The film is based on the true investigative case of the Boston Globe’s team of journalists who uncovered systematic abuse in the city’s Catholic Church, a story which goes all the way to the Vatican. It’s mega-stuff, painstakingly put together and director Tom McCarthy lets us feel every heavy step of the way, from the doorstepping to the jammed photocopier.
This isn’t the movie glamour journalism of shadowy contacts and coffee-fuelled stakeouts in the back of a big van. It’s about people having editorial meetings in rooms and getting antsy about when to run it past the senior editor.
Perhaps that’s why at times it feels like nothing much to look at, relying on the acting of it’s many stars, from Mark Ruffalo to Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams. Everyone’s good in it, if a bit ticcy and hammy, like they’re off-Broadway rather than off camera.
But you can’t deny the powerful sense of outrage that’s building, a build that leaves you with the same sense of anger that the paranoia thrillers of the 70s – of which All The President’s Men is the most obvious parallel – induced in viewers. It’s a methodical, thoughtful and carefully pieced-together film, just like the case it reconstructs to devastating effect.
And, you know, sometimes slow and steady wins the race.