Each year, a lot of filmmakers make a lot of movies. Some of them are noteworthy, some become celebrated award-winners, while a rare one or two enter into the annals of history – taking place alongside great works by artists such as Alan J. Pakula. Part of the fun is predicting which film – if any – will fall into the latter category, and this year, all eyes are on Spotlight.
It’s not an outlandish idea to compare the upcoming drama to Pakula’s legendary All The President’s Men, since the subject matter shares the theme of presenting a fictionalized account of some of the most important and remarkable journalism of the 20th century. Where Pakula’s Oscar winner focused on The Washington Post’s work on the Watergate scandal, Spotlight depicts the work of The Boston Globe in uncovering the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse scandal of 2001.
In a further connection, the two tales feature two generations of the famous Bradlee family in their respective journalistic work – Jason Robards having won an Oscar for playing Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in All The President’s Men, and John Slattery playing his son, The Boston Globe’s Ben Bradlee Jr in Spotlight.
“In 2001, The Boston Globe began an investigation that would rock the city and shock the world. Spotlight tells the story of Marty Baron (Live Schreiber), Ben Bradlee Jr (John Slattery) and four members of the Globe’s investigative Spotlight team – Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) – who would sacrifice everything to expose the Boston Archdiocese’s systemic cover up of sexual abuse of children by ordained priests. For years, whispers of scandal were ignored by society, the media, by police and by the legal system. Silenced by their shame, victims of sexual abuse often became the victims of suicide. For their commitment to truth, the Spotlight team received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.”
The Pulitzer Prize won by the team came, not only for its coverage of the criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests in Boston, but because that coverage put the full horror of the situation in the national and international spotlight in such a way that many more victims were enabled to come forward. The ramifications of the work of The Boston Globe Spotlight team were so far-reaching that it caused a global crisis for the Catholic Church, and led to fundamental changes within that institution.
In addition to the accusations – which numbered in their thousands – the Globe’s coverage revealed the conspiratorial actions of Catholic Bishops, who often tried to cover up crimes by moving abusive clergy to other geographical areas, while still allowing them access to children and young people.
While the subject matter of Spotlight is horrifying, it is the talent involved in the project that makes this such a highly anticipated release, with expectations of excellence. It is written and directed by Tom McCarthy, whose previous work behind the camera includes writing and directing The Station Agent (which won him a BAFTA), writing Up (which earned him an Oscar nomination), and writing and directing The Visitor (which earned an Oscar nomination for lead actor, Richard Jenkins). Co-writing Spotlight is Josh Singer, whose past credits include The West Wing, Fringe and The Fifth Estate.
With cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi (Silver Lining’s Playbook, Out Of The Furnace), it is the cast that really grabs the attention here. Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle and Jamey Sheridan – all performers operating at the top of their game, bringing heavy-weight ability to this vital story, as demonstrated in the newly released trailer. It is probably safe to assume that these actors have been attracted to this project by an excellent script – it having featured on the 2013 Black List – and the calibre of its director, which is also evident in this preview footage.
Whether Spotlight is, in the final analysis, a worthy companion to Alan J. Pakula’s All The President’s Men – and worthy of the heightened expectation it has so far generated – will be revealed when it premieres at the Venice Film Festival, screens at the Toronto Film Festival, and opens in theatres on November 6th, 2015.
Source: Collider / Jo Blo Movie Trailers