It’s based on actual events and, as you can imagine, it’s not a film that contains many laughs…
BUT, I found it absolutely compelling.
It reminded me of “All The President’s Men” (about the Watergate scandal - made in 1976 and starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford). The Boston Globe newspaper’s small, tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters slowly unravel a series of systematic cover-ups of child molestations within the Massachusetts priesthood. It all takes time… and huge determination – against a Catholic Church who, despite repeated allegations of misconduct against minors in its care, simply moved accused priests from parish to parish rather than allowing them to face justice.
The team starts off believing they have evidence against a couple of priests within the Massachusetts area… then the list of names grows to five, then nine, then 13… then, through an ex-priest who worked trying to rehabilitate pedophile priests, they conclude that there should be approximately ninety abusive priests in Boston. Through their research, they develop a list of eighty-seven names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions. At every stage, the Church (assisted by top-flight lawyers) blocked their investigations.
In the end, the journalists are the victors (and some of the surviving victims obtain justice).
You’re left feeling a sense of utter outrage against the Catholic Church as an institution. At times, it felt rather like a story of shameful Popes of the 15th+16th centuries – all powerful and untouchable. It reminded me of some quotes about the holocaust (eg. …“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me”).You can also imagine that if the Boston Globe had only uncovered evidence of misconduct by perhaps a couple of priests, then we might still know nothing of the widespread nature of these atrocities… with the Church making reassuring noises.You’re also left feeling a sense of admiration for those journalists (and their superiors) who were prepared to invest huge amounts of time, effort and money to try to investigate these matters (and taking massive risks in the process).Thank goodness they did.
The film ends with a massive list of locations throughout the world where similar cases of misconduct have subsequently been exposed. It’s simply shocking. It left me feeling sorry for the victims, and innocent members and priests of the Catholic Church… and for other Christians throughout the world who’d also been betrayed by what had happened.
The Spotlight team proved that Cardinal Bernard Law (Archbishop of Boston) had not only known about the extent of the problem, but had chosen to ignore it.
The film finishes on a powerful, albeit ironic, note when, in the final credits, it simply states that, following the events in the film, the Catholic Church had reassigned Cardinal Bernard Law to a senior position of honour in Rome.
You really couldn’t make it up!
A very powerful, quite brilliant film – and one which I definitely think you should see.