‘Spotlight’ illuminates importance of truth

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo search for the truth in Spotlight. Photo credit: Open Roads.

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo search for the truth in “Spotlight.” Photo credit: Open Roads.

“Spotlight” is one of those rare movies that should become part of the curriculum for aspiring journalists. It’s a movie teachers will play for their students to show the power of writing.

It’s 2001 and “The Boston Globe” just hired its new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who shakes up the newspaper by sending the “Spotlight” four-person investigative unit to look into the horrific pattern of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) leads the team, which includes Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).

The investigation goes on for months as the team hits roadblock after roadblock, taking one step forward for every two steps back. In the end, the story finally breaks and they expose the truth, bringing the cover-up to light.

The narrative doesn’t dive into the lives of these reporters, focusing instead on the hunt to discover the truth that had been swept under the rug.

Monsters emerge within the film, such as the church, lawyers and priests who act as though they’ve done nothing wrong at all. When Sacha confronts one of the priests, he blurts out what he’s done, expressing, “I never gratified myself. I never felt any pleasure from it. That’s important to understand.”

The emotion on her face mirrors that of the audience— confusion and horror.

The film is directed by Tom McCarthy, who takes on the powerful true story and gives it the representation it deserves. With a superb cast and a script by Josh Singer and McCarthy, the film is an inspiring work of art.

As I was walking out of the movie theater, still in awe by what I saw, I ran into another movie-goer who expressed that he hadn’t seen a movie like that since “All the President’s Men.”

He may be right.

“Spotlight” does mirror “All the President’s Men.” Both films reveal what journalism is meant to be: a way to expose the world to stories whether they know about them or not. Stories that will change the way people look at the world.

Journalism isn’t what it used to be with entertaining news winning over hard-hitting ones, but there is hope with “Spotlight.” Future journalists should take note.

Erin Vierra can be reached at [email protected] or @hippycinephile on Twitter.