Spotlight ★★★★½

I was raised Catholic. Not especially Catholic, mind you. My parents never made me go to church once I got into high school, but I attended Catholic school from preschool through my senior year. Catholic ideals had a major effect on the man I am today. 

Then came my freshman year of college — the first time I’ve ever truly known independence. Suddenly, I was able to decide how I want to spend my time and what I wanted to prioritize. I got to think for myself in a very real way, something that I couldn’t always do before. 

I watched Spotlight in my intro to journalism class, the first step on the road to my journalism degree. Now a journalism major that was raised Catholic is bound to have strong feelings about Spotlight, the story of the press taking on the Archdiocese. That fact is inevitable. 

I’m not going to pretend I was a strong believer in the Catholic Church right up until this movie, even if that would make for a better narrative. Ever since high school began I’d been having my personal doubts. Between my family’s liberal political attitudes and my several friends in the LGBT+ community, Catholicism has been losing a lot of its credibility for a while now. Spotlight did, however, provide the final blow, mostly because it came at the exact right moment. 

This movie is intense in every way. The writing is intense. The pacing is intense. The music is intense. The acting is intense (so intense that you can’t even single out specific actors for doing an exceptional job. everyone was astounding). All that aside, the source material is intense, and this movie wouldn’t exist without it. 

The most surprising thing about this near perfect film is that it doesn’t dramaticize anything. We don’t get weird subplots involving the main characters’ personal lives in order to make it more cinematic, because the story itself is already as cinematic as it needs to be. The pacing is just nonstop. We follow a multitude of characters chasing even more different threads, and we get the pleasure of piecing the story together right alongside them. 

All that being said, it isn’t quite perfect. Sometimes the music and editing can make it feel kind of like a soap opera, and the relationship between the press and the local church wasn’t explored nearly as much as it should’ve been. Still, Spotlight is an insanely engaging film, and quite honestly a must watch. 

But, yeah. I don’t go to church anymore.

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