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TIFF 2015 Review: Spotlight

Director Tom McCarthy was on a streak of great films until last year, when his Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler fell flat, both with audiences and critics. Just a year later, McCarthy is back on the saddle with a Spotlight, a journalism drama that is leagues better than his previous effort.

The film chronicles the true story of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight division and their attempt to expose the decades long cover-up of molestations by Catholic priests. The team includes Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), Matty Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James), and Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo).

With so many lead characters, one would worry that they would be two dimensional and underdeveloped. McCarthy’s approach to character development is actually quite interesting. This is because he tells the audience very little about the characters. Instead he focuses strictly on the cover-up at hand. Along the way McCarthy reveals small details about each of the characters, just enough for audiences to get an idea of what kind of people they are.

The actors in this case are so skilled that their performances become secondary to their actions, as it truly feels like we are watching real journalists, rather than a bunch of award-winning actors.

Spotlight is ultimately an extremely intriguing film. It deals with heavy subject matter in a mature yet distanced manner. Not only is Spotlight a step up from The Cobbler, but it may just be McCarthy’s best film yet.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.