Review: Spotlight (2016)

It’s 10 days until the 88th Academy Awards will be hosted by Chris Rock. Stars will strut there diamonds, women will flaunt their perfect figures. Sobbing thank-you-speeches, J-Law might fall. It’ll be glorious but long at the same time and two days later we will have forgotten everything about Award season (Okay, maybe not the fact that Leo DiCaprio might have finally gone home with his Golden man.) So it’s perfect timing to really sit down and look at the 8 nominees for best film. I won’t be reviewing all of them, since I have seen a couple of them way back when, but maybe a prediction post, if I have the guts to face myself being wrong, will mention those which won’t be named in the next couple of days. But everything when the time is right. Today I’ll start with „Spotlight“.

Based on true events „Spotlight“ tells the story of a Boston Globe newspaper collective named „Spotlight“. Consisting of three men and one woman (I’ll oversee the gender gap here…gosh, I really am a feminist.) they do the investigative journalism at the paper, working in stories for years. When the paper gets a new editor-in-chief everybody is a little concerned about the future, but Marty Baron, stern and reserved, actually delivers the next story for Spotlight: Abusive priests in the catholic church. What no-one knows then, how big this story is going to get.

Possibly because of the Boston connection it reminds you, in tone and style, a little of „Mystic River“. The film has a slowness, a calmness to it, that surprisingly doesn’t make it boring, but gives it the right edge. It’s the complete opposite to what a reporters life is like, the way of reporting is like. Possibly a spin on how different times were back then? Why ever they made that choice, it suits the film and elevates its importance.

While the storytelling is well handled the acting has to be mentioned. Mark Ruffalo, known to be a great actor, exceeded himself in the role of Mike Rezendes. His body language, his speech, his habits are so well combined that they form a complete new human being and make it magnificent to watch. Next to him Michael Keaton, strong and with authority, manages to completely strip himself of his Birdman character. He fits perfectly into the character of Walter „Robby“ Robinson and makes you believe him to be an experienced news reporter. Between them a dominant and wonderful acting Rachel McAdams. She portrays Sacha Pfeiffer, the woman of the reporting quartet. It is mainly her fast speech that probably separates her from the Rachel McAdams you might know, but she does it in such a subtle way, that a new character is born.

The story, because based on true events, already does have those gripping elements you are looking in a film. But there is more. It’s not about exploiting names or people, it’s about holding a mirror in front of society. That the catholic church is abusing children is no news. But the fact, that many people know about it and hide it, is. The film manages to point at the audience and involve them in a way, that you might question your own part in this. Still, even though the criticise the church with this, they don’t drag them through the mud. It’s done very elegantly and with great care. They want to tell the story of this big story for Spotlight and not discredit the church (completely).

„Spotlight“ is a well deserved contender for Best Film Academy Award. The same applies to the other 5 nominations, which for example are: Rachel McAdams (Best Supporting Actress), Mark Ruffalo (Best Supporting Actor – which I don’t get…the supporting, not the nomination) or Tom McCarthy for Best Directing. Last Sunday they won a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. For the Academy Awards they can only hope.

If you wanna see a good film, gripping, exciting and beautifully made, go see „Spotlight“.

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