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Spotlight

Year: 2015
Production Co: Anonymous Content
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer
Cast: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup

Back when she was promoting Southpaw, Rachel McAdams said Tom McCarthy's set for Spotlight was the best she'd worked on, and it was a mood that's found its way into the film – of a group of mature and professional people banding together to do something right and good. They have little to work with, they face pressure on every side and there's no moustache twirling villain antagonist but a systemic social obstacle (a lot like making a movie).

Even characters you think are going to ultimately be obstructive like the standoffish new Boston Globe executive editor Marty Baron (Live Schreiber) or managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr (John Slattery) know they're doing something important and ultimately have the brains and bravery to support it.

It also paints as realistic a portrait of modern journalism as you're likely to get on a big screen – even if it does adhere to the general public's idea of a journalist (crusading, dogged, digging and uncovering facts rather than content construction from sources like PR who have a barrow to push, like 85 percent of the industry is today).

In early 2001 the Boston Globe's Spotlight section uncovered widespread child abuse by Catholic priests that was covered up by the highest levels, officials just shuffling the offending priests around the system to keep the extent of the abuse hidden.

Spotlight editor Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton, aiming squarely for an Oscar again) leads his team of reporters that includes Mike (Mark Ruffalo, doing the most 'acting' of the film) and Sacha (McAdams), as they dig deeper into what starts off seeming to be a fairly isolated child abuse case.

With Bradlee and Baron pressured from above to publish and/or move carefully in the new risk-averse corporate news world, the clock is ticking in more ways than one and the narrative follows the characters getting on with the business at hand with no real subplots or asides to detract from the essential story.

The visual of the film is similarly stripped back. It's procedural and workaday with no real style, flourish or embellishment. There are no bright colours or grand gestures, no high emotion except for moments when the stresses facing the team start to weigh on them, it's just a good story well told by good actors. From the simple onscreen title font on down, character, look and delivery are all secondary.

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