The award-winning film shines a “Spotlight” on journalists at their best


Art by Monica Sanford

Bella Riella, Head Copy Editor

In 2001, the members of Spotlight at The Boston Globe were encouraged to investigate and write about the controversial cover-ups within the Catholic Church. The first article released on this scandal, published in 2002, titled: “Church allowed abuse by priest for years,” written by reporter Michael Rezendes, underlines the Geoghan case—an abusive priest covered up within the Catholic Church—in a true, unfiltered, journalistic style.

Fast-forward to 2015, Director Tom McCarthy recreates what went down behind the scenes at The Boston Globe prior to the release of over 600 stories covering the issue and the endless twists and turns that came along with the investigation. In addition to the fueled dedication seen from the Spotlight team, the plot reveals perspectives beyond the members of The Boston Globe. From stories shared by the traumatized victims to the shady conversations with members of the Church, the film captures viewpoints from various angles, allowing watchers to pick up on the clues, while still not knowing what will happen next, just like an investigative journalist.

Cramped in a tight-knit basement, the Spotlight team—editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), and reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfieffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carol (Brian d’Arcy James)—display strong dedication to the story once it starts to unfold. Beyond the confinement of the basement where they work, the reporters spend personal time getting any information they can get in their notebooks. 

While at first the crew targets former priest, John J. Geoghan, the editor of The Boston Globe, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) encourages that they might not have the “full picture,” and that they should go after the whole system, rather than the case of one priest. 

The more evidence the reporters receive, the more unanswered questions they have. This recurring theme of not knowing what will happen next left the members of The Panther Press constantly on the edge of their seats. The film vividly depicts the bottomless pit of covered-up crimes and mysteries behind the endless cases that went on even under “God’s watchful eye.”

In addition to the unpredictability of “Spotlight,” actor Mark Ruffalo and actress Rachel McAdams flawlessly portray dedicated journalists who put every ounce of their time and willpower into their work. From working at home during dinner, to tracking down any interview they can get, the commitment is undeniable.

Ruffalo’s acting as Rezendes proves the power a story can have on its own writer before even being published. Beyond constantly being told “no” by multiple people, Rezendes shows utter persistence and does not back down from the story. He explains late in the film, “I know there’s things you cannot tell people. But I also know there’s a story here people will hear about it,” he says, angry that the story might not get its own spotlight. On top of that, McAdams’ performance undeniably represents a hard-working female journalist in a male-dominated office.

Through impeccable acting, the entire cast paints the picture of the ups and downs of collaborating on a journalistic investigation.

Although “Spotlight” recaps unforgettably painful moments in history, it emphasizes the potential of what a group of journalists, who do what they do best, looks like, and how that can have a groundbreaking impact on millions of people. The film has also spread a massive awareness of sexual abuse cases, and shows people what exactly has happened, and even might still be happening if we turn a blind eye.

Overall, the movie and actors not only capture the true significance of this serious series of events, but also, a powerful and realistic newsroom. On top of that (if you’re not already convinced), this film is incredibly compelling, absolutely worth watching, and definitely one to sit through until the end.