Michael Keaton, left, and Mark Ruffalo are excellent as investigative newsmen in “Spotlight.” (Courtesy Kerry Hayes/Open Road)

Michael Keaton, left, and Mark Ruffalo are excellent as investigative newsmen in “Spotlight.” (Courtesy Kerry Hayes/Open Road)

‘Spotlight’ a great, entertaining, relevant journalism movie

It’s possible that veteran newspapermen and women will appreciate “Spotlight” more than an average viewer might, but, really, it’s a fascinating and frighteningly relevant story of big city journalism for everyone.

It may even be the best newspaper movie since “All the President’s Men,” although its conspiracy story cuts deeper — molested children rather than crooked politicians — and its villain (the Catholic Church) more dangerous.

The title refers to a team of Boston Globe investigative reporters given time and resources to dig deep into big, far-reaching stories. (The team on which “Spotlight” is based won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for its coverage of the story.)

Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) report to deputy managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery). When a new editor-in-chief Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives in 2001, he quietly puts the them on the story of Boston priests molesting young boys.

They begin interviewing sources and gathering information; their initial target of 13 guilty local priests quickly turns into nearly a hundred.

They speak to a persnickety lawyer (Stanley Tucci) who defends the victims, and to a sly one (Billy Crudup) who makes deals for the church. They chase after a packet of sealed documents that could contain damning evidence. And, heartbreakingly, they interview a few of the surviving, grown-up victims.

Writer-director Tom McCarthy, best known for smart, tender character-driven stories like “The Station Agent,” “The Visitor” and “Win Win,” gives “Spotlight” a surprisingly straightforward, tightly-constructed structure.

It’s not overly visual, but McCarthy’s brightly-lit shots, and a spare music score by Howard Shore, give the movie’s ample dialogue an urgent sense of rhythm. The energy sizzles as new leads are uncovered and as puzzling setbacks occur.

McCarthy shows the characters’ lives are they’re in progress. We see them at ballgames, church and at home, No introduction, and no pleasantries, are required. And he coaxes admirable performances from the ensemble cast, although Tucci, Schreiber, Keaton and Ruffalo step up for a few movingly subtle moments.

The actors give life-blood to the highly intelligent movie, which is energized by the thrill of a David taking on a Goliath.

It’s the kind of story journalists live for, and it’s the kind of movie we all deserve.

REVIEW
Spotlight

Three and a half stars
Starring: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber
Written by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Rated R
Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

Boston GlobeCatholic ChurchLiev SchreiberMark RuffaloMichael KeatonMovies and TVSpotlightStanley TucciTom McCarthy

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Under stay-at-home orders effective today in San Francisco, outdoor dining is not allowed, and there are new limits regarding the number of people that can be indoors at essential businesses. <ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Bay Area counties to shut down outdoor dining, non-essential businesses

Regional stay-at-home order to take effect Sunday, sooner than statewide order announced Thursday

Former Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant received his 2017-18 Championship ring at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Oct. 16, 2018. Durant, now playing with the Brooklyn Nets, will play against his former team at Chase Center in February. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Kevin Durant to face former teammates at Chase Center in February

Schedule released Friday calls for Warriors to play Christmas and New Year’s Day games

Photo by Abalone Runner/ <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74406455" target="_blank">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>
Former Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard facing domestic violence, child abuse charges

Prominent Bay Area political strategist Nathan Ballard is facing domestic violence and… Continue reading

Construction crews work on new red bus rapid transit lanes on Van Ness Avenue on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board scrutinizes Van Ness BRT spending

Proposed contract modification would allocate $2.6 million for pedestrian monitors

Mayor London Breed said “I need to hold myself to a higher standard” in response to criticism of a recent meal at a Napa Valley restaurant. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed calls criticism for French Laundry trip ‘fair’

Mayor said she regrets that actions ‘distracted’ from public health message as COVID-19 cases rise

Most Read