Spotlight just won best picture at the 88th Academy Awards. Well shit. That’s going to make this review a lot more difficult to write. I knew I should have tried harder to get this thing published before the awards were handed out. You see, Spotlight is a good movie. But best movie of the year? Maybe if it was 2003.
I’m aware that it’s probably not a great idea to speak unkindly about a movie that deals with the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse. So I’m doing my best to avoid any knee-jerk reactions after watching it win an award I don’t think it deserved to win. This doesn’t mean I think the topic of priests molesting kids isn’t important or that Spotlight was dreck. I just wanted more from the movie.
Spotlight plays more like a basic retelling of a Wikipedia page than a dynamic piece of storytelling. I love Wikipedia. I read it all the time. But I don’t use it to develop deep feelings towards a topic. I read Wikipedia to get the basic details and highlights. Spotlight is basic details and highlights of a really important topic. There’s got to be a lot more than what the movie is telling me.
I had a really hard time connecting with the characters in Spotlight. All of the actors who portray the Boston Globe reporters do an incredible job emoting and delivering their lines but I don’t actually remember any of the characters names. Michael Keaton was great as the guy Michael Keaton played. Mark Ruffalo played serious Mark Ruffalo perfectly. Rachel McAdams turned in a brilliant performance as what’s-her-face. Liev Schreiber rocked it as tame Liev Schreiber. The “Ooga Booga Big” guy was excellent as the the guy he played. And then there was the guy who’s name I don’t know… but he was good too.
I just wanted more depth out of the characters instead of having them be empty vessels for me to inhabit while they investigate the Catholic Church for abhorrent crimes.
I normally don’t like to mention things like a score when scoring a movie, but normally the music in a film doesn’t stick out like it did in Spotlight. Just like CGI, you don’t notice when it’s good, but you definitely notice when it’s bad. The music in Spotlight is cheap and weak. Whenever I’d be getting into the movie and we’d reach an emotional moment, in comes some broadcast TV-quality music. Spotlight would have been better off having zero soundtrack. I’m actually glad there was not more music.
But generally speaking, I wanted more out of Spotlight. I wanted more depth into the Catholic Church. I wanted more depth into their interviews with the victims. I wanted more depth into the main characters. I wanted more finalization to the ending. I wanted Spotlight to tell me how to fix everything. But instead I’m just left with an enticing Wikipedia page of a movie that sparks my interest enough to make me do my own investigation. I want more. And now I have to go out on my own and find the details I’m looking for… oh… ohhhhhhh… I see what they did there.