AN ABSOLUTE TRIUMPH IN MODERN HISTORIC FILM-MAKING.
As a journalism student, I was naturally pulled in towards Spotlight. At this point I wasn’t even sure of the story, all I knew was that journalism was a key component. Then I dug a little deeper into the background before viewing. The story behind Spotlight is a tremendous one, but also majorly important. It is tough to take in, so did the film-makers make it enjoyable for the viewers?
I’ll give you a run through of the plot for Spotlight. It is based in Boston, and revolves around child abuse committed by Priests. Now, the film isn’t necessarily about people finding out about the priests abusing children. Spotlight follows the bold team of journalists, who carried out a lengthy investigation into how child abuse was covered up by the Catholic Church, with revelations that were set to not only change the city, but the entire world.
The 2002 investigation shook the Catholic institution to its core, causing a mass crisis within it. Not only this though; for many people – the survivors – it was justice. They were finally getting some kind of peace from their earlier suffering. Seriously if you don’t know much about it, read up on it, then see the film.
I have no complaints, so let’s run through all the positives. The score compliments the film beautifully, and the direction is absolutely perfect. Tom McCarthy has managed to craft a film out of a rather tough story that is enjoyable for everyone. It’s certainly not boring, if anything it’s the opposite. Spotlight manages to be informative, exciting, electrifying, and just bloody brilliant consistently. And that’s with me not mentioning the cast. Hats off to McCarthy, he’s done an incredible job.
What’s important to note is the film never at any point makes these reporters out to be some mighty, powerful figures. They were just your everyday journalists, who were told to investigate a story by their editor. In the film you get to see the clear struggles they went through – whether it was the ethical issues talking to victims, problems trying to obtain information and evidence to use, or simply their own personal problems as a result of increasing pressure. Don’t get me wrong though, these reporters are very much ‘heroes’. The film respects them, and honors them as a result.
Now for the cast themselves – one of the best ensembles I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. All of them flow together fantastically, showing us the kind of chemistry you’d expect from a small team of journos. Whilst this makes each scene miles better, you cannot deny each cast member their own praise.
Therefore, let’s start with the main female cast member; Rachel McAdams. She plays the tenacious Sasha Pfeiffer, and she doesn’t disappoint. I found her very believable throughout, and it’s nice to see her get an Oscar nomination. Brian d’Arcy James plays Matt Carroll, a mild-mannered reporter who keeps his cool, but finds himself struggling as the investigation carries on. Mark Ruffalo plays Mike Rezendes, a hyper-active, excitable, but at his core dedicated reporter who becomes massively attached to the story. Ruffalo provides the more emotional scenes in the film, including a memorable, impassioned speech to his team. Give Ruffalo his Oscar – he’s earned it. Other cast members, especially Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber, pull their weight and provide performances all of which give the film that exhilarating edge.
Finally Michael Keaton as the leader of the ‘Spotlight’ investigative team, Walter Robinson. Following his return to our screens in last years Birdman, this role is certainly more grounded, but just as memorable. His character goes through the struggles of uncovering a scandal in a ‘town’ which has been his bread and butter from day one. He brings a lot of impact to the screen, and gives us another fine performance.
There’s a line late in the film that stuck out to me: “No-one wants to read about kids being raped by priests”. Whilst it is difficult to face the film’s grim subject matter, it is impossible to ignore the expertise and genuine care taken with the production. Throw in a sublime cast, perfect direction, a razor sharp script and a gorgeous score – you get something truly unforgettable. Spotlight is a tense, absorbing film, that is ultimately one of the most important films of our time. I would even go as far to say this should win Best Picture.
Rating: PURE DYNAMITE!
Check out the trailer for Spotlight here:
Planning on seeing Spotlight? Let me know what you think in the comments or tweet @film_swot.
Author: Cameron Frew
For this week’s Wee Wednesday Review, I chose Kick-Ass.
Creed is the seventh film of the Rocky franchise, and for someone like me – a teenager who has never seen any of the franchise as I have clearly been living under a rock – it was a great advert to go back and watch all the other six films.
Adonis Johnson is a kid who loves to fight. After finding out who is father is – Rocky’s respectable rival, Apollo Creed – he grows up wanting to become a boxer. He risks everything to fulfil his dream, in a predictable, yet moving tale.
Firstly, I want to say that Michael B. Jordan is a fantastic actor. He teams up again in Creed with director Ryan Coogler, with whom he worked on Fruitvale Station (if you haven’t watched that before, go and do it now, and thank me later). His character in this is slightly similar – a young black guy, who although deep down is a good person, is liable to making bad choices – but my god, does Jordan play it well. His cocky yet humble persona jumps off the screen and he is instantly likable, winning over Rocky as well as the audience.
And next, the man who has already won the Critic’s Choice and Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor – Sylvester Stallone. He’s a legend of the screen, and he really didn’t let us down with this performance. Despite some questionable films of late, Stallone shone in every scene he was in. It is Rocky Balboa’s story that tugs at the heartstrings, and Stallone added some perhaps unseen before raw emotion to the character.
The camerawork is excellent, in particular in the actual matches that Adonis fights in. Using 360 shots it gives a great in-the-ring perspective, and although it can make you dizzy at times it’s amazing to see the blood, sweat, and punches up close. The soundtrack added to the movie well, with Childish Gambino, Future, Meek Mill, and 2pac all featuring, and the score of course featured the classic Rocky theme tune hook, ‘Gonna Fly Now’. That was just one example of how the film paid homage to the franchise, which can surely please the die-hard fans.
You do get some amount of cheese with a film like this, and there was a fair few times, but only once did it drive me to the distraction of checking my phone on the sly. The love story between Adonis and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) was a bit weak and seemed to develop way too quickly, although it is probably still necessary in a movie of this genre. It doesn’t go too far off-script from the original recipe that made Rocky such a global hit (young, unknown boxer gets a chance, works hard, shocks everyone, wins the girl) and that could potentially be seen as a negative. I think it would do no harm to spread its wings a little and try something different, but don’t change a winning formula, right?
A great feel-good film, I’d recommend any fan of the Rocky franchise to watch this. Maybe not a new classic, but it certainly didn’t harm the legacy that Rocky has built.
Check out the trailer:
What do you think? Will you be seeing Creed? Have you already seen it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet @film_swot.
Author: Andrew Petrie
For this week’s Wee Wednesday Review, I chose Gulliver’s Travels.
As an avid user of Apple products – I own an iPhone, an iPad and a Macbook Pro – I have always been curious about the company’s history. Also, following the death of co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs back in 2012, I realised I didn’t really know that much about such a powerful figure. So how did the new film based on Jobs turn out?