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November 6, 2016

Spotlight (2016)
Director: Todd McCarthy
Actors: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams

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Synopsis: Journalists working for the investigative unit of the Boston Globe (known as ‘Spotlight’) pick up a seemingly incidental case of abuse from a Catholic Father to uncover a systematic culture of depravity and cover up.

Review: This is an oh so familiar story from a burgeoning new subgenre of films: Hollywoodised investigative journalism. It hearkens back to (and pilfers from?) the iconography of far superior works in the genre – namely All the President’s Men and Zodiac. It’s a great example of a film where method acting has been allowed to run amok and it’s well and truly “props o’clock”: a chance for grizzled old Hollywood pros to ogle their craft by overdemonstrating their characters’ workaholic, white collar zeal (all the journalists are perpetually scribbling things down into notebooks, they’re reaching over a pile of folders on a suspiciously ramshackle desk to grab a post-it note, they’re clutching their coffees mid-phone call, or scoffing down a quick bagel between frantic, snatched conversations).

This laughable whiff of cliché that lingers over the movie aside (and let’s not forget, Hollywood bought it hook, line and sinker by making it its Best Picture at the Oscars), it’s an entertaining couple of hours of bombastic fluff. It’s clearly a salient story to tell, and the earnestness of the production (matching the fervour of the on-screen players) makes it trundle along breezily enough to its predictable conclusion. (November 2016)

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