I’m not usually one for watching movies over and over. But since it was released at the start of the year, I’ve watched Spotlight at least five times. That is definitely a record for me. This film, this story, is incredible. In all my re-watching, it’s never failed to leave me feeling completely inspired.
The movie follows the Boston Globe’s Spotlight reporting team as they delve into reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic church. What starts out as an investigation into whether the church knew of one or two priests abusing children soon uncovers hundreds of cases of abuse who had gone unreported for years. The subsequent reporting lead to investigations in parishes across America and eventually the world. It’s thanks to these reporters the Royal Commission is taking place in Australia. The reporting team won a Pulitzer Prize for their work in 2003.
It was likely I would always love this film, given my career choice. But this isn’t just a film for journalists. My father, undoubtedly one of the harshest film critics, was glued to this. As everyone I’ve introduced to this movie has been. Each time I watch this I’m amazed the creative team (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer) have made the hard slog of deep investigative journalism so compelling. It’s not glamorous by any means, and I love that Spotlight doesn’t try to portray it as such. In fact, one of the best elements of this film is that it shows the toll stories like this take on journalists both physically and emotionally. I have so much admiration for the Spotlight team. Watching this I am always reminded of the power of this profession; something that’s easy to forget when you’re caught up in the daily news cycle.
I was also in awe of the survivors who told their stories in the original investigation and have come forward since. Without their bravery, the work of Spotlight would not have been the same. What I love about the film is that it not only sheds light on the journalists, but serves as yet another way to tell the stories of the survivors and to condemn the atrocious abuse that went unchecked for decades. Seeing the film win the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay was a delight because it was yet another chance for the survivors to be honoured.
I cannot recommend Spotlight highly enough. As a film, it’s incredibly engaging. But the most amazing thing is this is real and the consequences of this reporting are ongoing. Just go and watch it already.