Victoria Jelinek


Spotlight movie posterA small group of journalists from The Boston Globe reveal the Catholic Church’s role in systematically covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and John Slattery play the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters. Through them, Director Tom McCarthy demonstrates (again) his incredibly understated ‘touch’ with actors. This ensemble cast is a model of low-key greatness – as is the film itself. There are no ghoulish rape flashbacks or sensationalistic cutaways to a menacing clerical conspiracy behind closed doors. There is just the absolute confidence that the audience will be enthralled as the reporters quietly and quickly go through journalistic procedures, slowly and steadily gathering information, and painstakingly corroborating leads and hunches. Like so many films absorbed with the minutia of daily journalism, Spotlight is a terrifically nerdy process movie.

What I especially liked about this film is its incredibly perceptive sense of how inextricably the Church is woven into the fabric of Boston life. The Church concealed its corruption for so long by applying pressure to the city’s legal, political, and journalistic institutions. As Spotlight sifts through the appalling pile of evidence to reveal the Church’s horrific cycles of abuse and concealment, we understand that the most galling crime is that it has used its uniquely privileged position in society to exploit its victims (whom they are meant to serve). We also understand that many of us are complicit in allowing this type of oppression to flourish because we don’t do anything about it when we see it. Jamey Sheridan and Paul Guilfoyle are two Church-connected friends who try to convince editor Robinson (Keaton) not to publish, and we recognize these characters immediately — they are the members of our decent yet compromised humanity, the proverbial good men who do nothing and therefore allow evil to grow and to thrive.

Sobering, yes, but a very good film with a strong narrative and a fine cast.


The Town
October 17, 2010, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

After a heist, professional thief Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) keeps an eye on bank manager Claire, the only witness who could identify MacRay’s gang.  The couple fall in love with each other, and as FBI agent Jon Hamm (Mad Men) closes in on him, McCray begins to question the life he’s been leading.

This is Affleck’s second directorial feature after the critically acclaimed Gone Baby Gone. The themes aren’t particularly original – bad guys wanting to change their ways, kidnapper getting involved with his hostage, a neighbourhood ruled by a criminal fraternity – but Affleck has a feel for the one-square mile district in Boston that accounts for 300 robberies a year and where even children can spot undercover cops.

The film jumpstarts with a slick, well-practiced robbery, but none of the action is overblown, and while the fights are brutal, they’re also always believable. This is a fantastic crime thriller and drama, with pitch-perfect performances, that serves as confirmation of Affleck’s ability as a director.