Netflix Review: Spotlight

I am really starting to appreciate my Netflix subscription.

 

There have been so many people who have come up to me and said something along the lines of, “Oh, you review movies online? Have you seen Spotlight? You should see Spotlight. Spotlight is fantastic.”

 

So when I saw that Netflix had it on, I immediately put it in my queue. And honestly, I can see what all the fuss is about; I thought Spotlight was great. I’m not sure if it should have won best picture because I think Mad Max: Fury Road AND The Revenant were both superior films in nearly every aspect, but I’m not upset that Spotlight won.

 

The performances in this movie were all spot on. Keaton, Ruffalo, McAdams, and that other dude Brian d’Arcy James all do fantastic jobs. There was this unspoken closeness among them that really tied their characters together. This was established not just through the performances, but also through the dialogue. All the other characters in this film do fantastic jobs. If I had to choose the performance I was most impressed with, I would have to go with Mark Ruffalo, but that’s because the script gave him the biggest opportunity to show the most powerful emotion.

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In all honesty, almost all of these characters are average joes. There is no out-there personality types except for Stanley Tucci (who was great as always). This made the movie a bit more impressive because it relied on the workable chemistry among all of the stars in order to make interesting characters instead of relying heavily on unique personalities.

 

One of the intriguing things about all of these characters is that all of them are married, but the movie does not show their spouses, aside from a few scenes with Rachel McAdams’ spouse (even though the script has them all mention their wives/husband multiple times). This showed just how much of a disconnect these people had with their personal lives because they took their jobs and their reporting so seriously. It was quite tragic in a way, and it really gave a depth to the toll this job had on them.

 

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And honestly, as a religious person (I’m not catholic, but still), this movie scared me quite a bit; I always tend to be a person that thinks that religion is a societal good.

This movie demonstrates, in my opinion, what happens when any sort of person or institution becomes so powerful that they are above the law. When all forms of accountability are taken away from a man, he is capable of unimaginable atrocities. Now imagine one of the largest Christian denominations losing all accountability. This harms not just those inside the institution, but it harms the perspectives of those on the outside.

And most importantly, it harms every single victim it ensnares. There are a few characters in the movie who portray the victims of sexual abuse, and almost all of their performances were more powerful than our lead characters. Some of the scenes were rather heartbreaking.

 

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The cinematography is outstanding as well. There are quite a few long shots in the film, but many of those shots are not taken simply to impress cinema-enthusiasts like myself. Some of the long shots, like the one where James’ character walks from his home to a suspected pedophile’s house, were used to show proximity, which in turn gave the shots more purpose.

 

This movie is extremely well done. I am definitely glad I finally got to watch it. If there is any question on the out-of-10 rating for this movie, it is whether or not it deserves an 8 or a 9. And honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize the emotional impact this movie had on me. I was still thinking about it long after I turned it off. I’ll have to watch it again to be certain of the rating. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get additional enjoyment out of the second viewing and justify a perfect rating? But for now, I’m giving this movie a 9 out of 10.

 

stevejdonahue.wordpress.com

 

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