The script work made by Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight s unbelievable: it’s an accurate reconstruction which mixes in an elegant and minimal way reality and fiction, true facts, in respect of the victims (and, forcefully, of the oppressors), giving to it all a modern and captivating narrative trend, molding reality to movie reasoning.
That’s what McCarthy cares about: to give life to a gigantic movie in order to show to the audience, but also to enter in everyone’s mind with a strong story, full of implications. Its value stays in being able to work on the long periods, on a screenplay that uses its two hours-duration to get to the point, avoiding to look for tiny triumphs or satisfactions. What is particular, in Spotlight, for the modern cinema, is that it can be considered as a river-movie, without crucial scenes and it’s determined to give space to the real story.
In these two hours, so thick and clear, it seems as if you could find a lot of material fo a TV series. The pedophilia scandal inside Boston catholic community in 2002 (soon broaden), is seen by Boston Globe’s journalists’ point of view, who revealed it and told it –two actions that coincide, in the movie. No truth exists but the one that can become narration, there’s no revelation that can’t be told, and that’s how McCarthy goes on, imitating his journalists. In fact, pedophilia is maybe the last among the interests of the movie, since everyone knows about it, already. His first goal is instead to show a path and a little world behind such a scandal, using a touching rhetorical economy, very controlled in its interpretations.
Spotlight tells Boston, a city where the catholic power seeps through every structure, where every institution depends on the others, as the journal (whose main building, in a great scene, is “threatened” by a huge advertisement signpost of an internet company –it was 2001, after all…). The movie has a powerful and fascinating theme but this is nothing in comparison with the firm way in which they decide to tell us the story. McCarthy and Singer, imitating their journalists, seems to have asked themselves in every scene how to realize the maximum with the minimum: also the great cast seems to be involved in this process (evert member of the cast but Ruffalo, the only one allowed to exaggerate in his interpretation, and able to do it with striking mastery).
The result is that this astonishing movie can simultaneously create a unique and epic character, Liev Schrieber, the journal editor (that appears few times and speaks only a little, that seems to be useless but instead is the driving force of the movie, so authoritative and influential with no effort at all) and can also think of a very complicated story, so hard to clarify. Its goal is to conclude a line of reasoning on common and personal responsibility and adds to it all a plot twist in the finale, which involves Michael Keaton’s Robby Robertson (one of his best roles), in a unique moment of deserved compassion.
On the other side, the sentimental control and human shyness while approaching to a theme such as pedophilia lay in one of the many twists of Spotlight, when Rachel MacAdams, a journalist born in a true catholic family, makes his grandmother read the first article full of revelations, the one in which dozens of scenes, abuses and brutalities are shown to a community that has no idea of those things. In the meticulous, slow and controlled interpretation of the grandmother’s role and in the way in which the movie gets to that point (while the audience perfectly know how upsetting could such a revelation be for the characters) there’s the meaning of the whole movie, restricted, with the devastating strength of a whispered world.
By Gabriele Niola
Translation: Bianca Baroni
Photos: Alessio Costantino
In Collaboration with Badtaste.it