Regardless of the topic, an absorbing film involving print journalism research before the internet was a tool must be very difficult to make. Yet Spotlight succeeds for a number of reasons.
The writing is precise; there are no lengthy speeches of exposition – we learn everything we need to as the journalists uncover the information themselves. The performances are measured, with no one individual taking over – it’s a true ensemble cast, and even actors who generally enjoy a spot of scenery-chewing are understated and purposeful. And it doesn’t sensationalise; the events being reported and investigated are horrific and we realise that, but because we’re uncovering it from the point of view of the outsider, it doesn’t feel the need to take advantage of the victims’ experiences for sleaze value. There’s no need for that – the church is everywhere, and not only in a figurative sense; just about every outdoor scene has a church in the background, so it’s impossible to forget the wide-reaching establishment which is under scrutiny.
Very good indeed.