Spotlight Blu-ray Review
With all of the sensationalism that occurs on television news stations, it can be convenient to forget that there are things called newspapers. And somewhere within the cheap paper, between the world news, sports, stocks, obituaries and Peanuts reprints, there are pieces that can change and that can expose. One such series is the focus of SPOTLIGHT.
The spotlight team at The Boston Globe is an investigative group who tends to keep their work confidential up to the point of publication. They are accustomed to working by themselves and picking their own projects, which can take months or even years to develop, research and write. Their latest lead, at the recommendation of the Globe’s new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber, Edward Zwick’s PAWN SACRIFICE), centers on a case at first involving seemingly one priest and his serial molestation of numerous children. With more digging, patterns and secrets emerge and the team discovers that the case is of much wider scope than thought, actually involving somewhere around 90 priests. More digging reveals that Cardinal Law had knowledge and acted to conceal the crimes. (Closing titles reveal information even far more disturbing and worldly.) Spotlight’s editor, Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s BIRDMAN), urges discretion, something they’ll be fighting against over the next year.
The team—Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo, who earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams, who earned a Best Supporting Actress nod) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James, 2014’s TIME OUT OF MIND)—talks to victims, makes call after call and researches the contents of legal documents, all in the name of exposing those that helped build the ladder of lies and encouraging those that were wronged to come forward.
A number of journalism movies have showcased a fast-paced environment in which stories fly in and out of the newsroom and dark alleys where sources gift their information through cigarette smoke. SPOTLIGHT avoids this, ditching sensationalism for a real account. We see these reporters in the field, knocking on doors and demanding answers. We see them at their desks, which often simultaneously serve as filing cabinets, phone booths and cafeterias. This is a film about the process.
Director Tom McCarthy (2003’s THE STATION AGENT, 2011’s WIN WIN), who co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay with Josh Singer (2013’s THE FIFTH ESTATE), has created one of the ultimate films about journalism. It is a stellar demonstration of the power that good journalism can have and a call to arms, just as the work that inspired it was. At least partly because of this, SPOTLIGHT won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Hollywood’s highest honor. For the spotlight team’s remarkable efforts, they were gifted the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
This is the sort of film that should be studied in journalism classes, perhaps as a double feature with the reigning champ, 1976’s ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. It is a picture that highlights the importance of the profession and informs the viewer of why these people do what they do. Just as a generation was urged by Deep Throat’s urging to “Follow the money,” they can be equally inspired to, as one member puts it, simply “Keep going.”
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer offers excellent details, healthy colors and an overall pleasing image.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0; English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The dialogue comes through without flaw and the audio track as a whole has a nice atmosphere that captures the newsroom environment and Bosto exteriors.
Uncovering the Truth: A Spotlight Team Roundtable (6:33): The actual Boston Globe reporters sit down for a discussion about their experiences.
SPOTLIGHT: A Look Inside (2:30): This promotional piece uses clips and interview snippets to look at the plot and background of the movie.
The State of Journalism (3:14): This featurette briefly touches on the power of investigative journalism and where it stands in today’s times.