Interestingly, even as Spotlight released this week, a student leader is charged with anti- sedition law in India, aided by a fake video which has been circulated by 3 news channels which incidentally has now cast suspicion on the lives of students and the reputation of a fine institute.
The press as we all know is the fourth pillar of any democracy and it is essential for any true and successful nation to have an independent press. In one of the early scenes from the movie when the Cardinal suggests “The city flourishes when its great institutions work together,” the new editor points out how important it is for the press to work alone.
The film follows Boston Globe’s investigation into the molestation suffered by children at the hands of various priests across the globe and the attempts made by the Church to cover it up. Spotlight balances the narrative by showing how things work at the macro and micro level, which Trumbo in my opinion, failed to show.
The narrative set up follows a group of journalists who work for the Spotlight team for Boston Globe on this particular story for 8 months. It is interesting to note the boss and editor Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) is an individual who is at ease with the newspaper office and the institution of church. The majority of team members are from a Catholic background and have to confront their own faith and the consequences of the story which they are working on.
The best thing about film is that it does not show journalists as some sort of messiahs who are there to protect us from evil. They are a bunch of people who are doing their job in all earnestness. We are exposed to deadlines; how unplanned events jeopardise the story you are working on; how investigative journalism is not just about sitting on the table and googling, but going out on the streets everyday.
At the end of the day, telling your story in a straightforward way without losing the objective is what helps to bring maximum impact to the story and how cross verification is important while covering news. In recent times in India, one of the most used terms during the debates is where were you back then or why you did not oppose it during that time?
“What took you so long?” is a question which gets tossed around the film to the stakeholders and journalists. It shows us a grim reality and how even journalists are prone to miss or overlook things and how they they are trying to atone for their own failings. The film does not take the easy way out by giving us exploitative flashbacks. It shifts its attention equally towards the victims and the system, which has failed thousands of the former. It is a grim reminder of how religions and religious institutions get away with crime and get immunity from the system even today.
We know how the film will end and it is almost like a nail biting thriller. The film hits you harder during the post climax scene, especially when Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) walks out of the lawyer’s office after giving him the now famous edition of the Boston Globe and he realises that this is just the beginning. It hits you harder, when you realise the fact that such things will continue and religion will have the same upper hand over reason and logic.
Tom McCarthy gives us one of the best films of the year, which is not only brilliant in terms of storytelling but also disturbing at many levels.