Spotlight Review

Alessia Hughes

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Though I was by far the youngest person in the audience, sitting in the middle of the last row of the movie theater with my M&M’s, I was more than excited to see Spotlight after a month of trying to organize a time to see it with one of my friends.  Since I write for this newspaper, planning to major in Journalism in college and then move into a career with “journalist” besides my name, this movie was almost like heaven for me.  


Going into the movie, I didn’t know too much about the subject at hand.  If you don’t know what Spotlight is about, here’s a quick summary.  The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team is group of journalists who investigate issues around the Boston area and bring the issues into people’s conversations. The film tells the story of one of the team’s most famous stories, published in 2002. At the start of the film, the journalists pick up a claim that young boys had been molested by some priests in churches around the city of Boston.  As research continues, the group of four journalists, played by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James, assisted by the Globe’s editor, played by Liev Schreiber, spend endless months tracking down victims to narrate their accounts and find priests named in those stories.  While the timeline is not too specific at first, viewers can assume it took almost a year before they eventually published the first of over 600 articles about boys molested by priests in Boston, publishing it right after New Year’s 2002.


The movie, over two hours long, followed the fictionalized version of the spotlight team as they spent hours upon hours searching for names of priests through dozens of books, interviewing victims over and over, and finding the right clues and facts that would support their story and start to change the way the priests in debate were punished for their actions.  Each character completely immersed him or herself into the investigation, as suggested by the fact that the movie rarely focuses on their personal lives.  Three of the writers were married and one had two kids, yet we only meet two of the spouses and the only interaction with family is conversation about the investigation.  There are no romantic scenes, only one silent scene with the kids, and rarely ever do we see any other sides of the characters. While this may seem like a flaw at first, practically deleting life out of the movie shows how intense their jobs were and emphasizes the amount of stress they were under to help the story break out.


It seemed like they had an endless pile of work to do, with one part being resolved as another part added another dimension to the problem.  Their desks and office were buried under newspaper clippings, letters, and other documents that held secrets and major details about the issue.  Their constant research made me fall in love with journalism and feel more excited to explore the field on my own.  Rarely do we ever see a final product’s beginnings and rough drafts.  Just as with music, movies, and even athletes, we never know how journalists begin their stories, yet there is more work put into research than the small column written at the end.  To many, the idea of spending almost a year researching one specific topic sounds daunting and boring, but to me, it also sounds like the coolest job ever. These four journalists, as their name suggests, shined a light on a terrible pattern of pain and manipulation.  But even more importantly, they moved the first rocks to make the tsunami that would bring cases like the ones found in the Boston Archdiocese’s all over the country and world. These kinds of articles only come once in a lifetime, but this movie proved that journalism is a vital part to society and can be used to help people in the shadows of their culture and lifestyle.


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