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.


Celebration of Paris: Midnight in Paris & Amelie

Picking up from last month’s The French Paper interview with Woody Allen at the Cannes Film Festival, I’ve reviewed his latest film Minuit a Paris (Midnight in Paris) currently in cinemas. Because Allen’s film celebrates Paris as the city of light, the city of romance, and the city of beauty and possibility, I have chosen another film that honours Paris’ ‘heart’, too.


Director Woody Allen’s latest film, which premiered in Cannes this year, is a romantic comedy about a family travelling to Paris for business, including a young engaged couple. Our hero, one half of the couple, is unhappy, but not entirely sure how to amend his malcontent. During his rambling evening walks, our hero finds that he is transported to 1920’s Paris every night at midnight when he stands at a certain place in the city. In this other age he meets many of his heroes, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dali, Bunuel, Picasso, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein.  During these visits, our hero is forced to confront his illusion that a life different from his own is better, even as he also finds that some elements of his dreams are worth pursuing in his ‘real’ life.

This film is not one of Allen’s greats – Manhattan or Annie Hall or even The Mighty Aphrodite – but it is the best of recent years and absolutely worth watching. That said, it’s not a film for everyone because of its literary and artistic references as well as its subtext of existentialism, but that’s not to say that it’s ‘high brow’ or overly intellectual at all. Ultimately, Woody Allen’s film is an homage to creativity and dreams as a reality rather than as an illusion. This reviewer left the cinema after watching this film feeling that “all things are possible.”


Amelie secretly sorts out the sad little problems in her friends’ lives, bringing joy to them without being happy herself.  But when she finds a photo album belonging to a stranger called Nino, she realises that she’s in love from afar, a problem of her own she has to deal with, among other problems, one of which is that as a child she was isolated from her peers and withdrew into a private world of her own. Luckily, however, this gives her a great imagination and gives Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet the opportunity to filter the film through some of Amelie’s gently bizarre observations.

As in Director Jeunet’s other film Delicatessen, the affectionately eccentric and grotesque characters are essentially lonely people who share their geography. Unlike Delicatessen, there is the positive force of Amelie, played charmingly by Audrey Tautou, who brightens their lives and fills them, and us, with hope and happiness.

This colossal French box office hit has an irresistible charm that will eliminate the storm clouds hanging over the heads of even the most desolate misanthrope. With its wonderful soundtrack, Amelie leaves the viewer feeling revitalized and dreamy.