While it’s tempting to place the title Spotlight over the tagline, "Batman and The Hulk team-up to fight corruption," the solemnity of the subject matter makes that impossible. The film, starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and other impressive cast members, actually tackles a serious real-life issue that devastated a Catholic-packed Boston. Check out the drama’s debut trailer below.
It’s certainly a familiar premise. A ragtag group of righteous reporters stumbles onto a stunning scandal, prompting the various powers-that-be to stonewall, as frightened, would-be whistleblowers slam doors in the faces of the embattled investigators. Conventionality aside, Spotlight may not look so much to recapture the magic of the muckraking movie genre embodied by classics like All the President’s Men, or later efforts like The Insider, but it nevertheless stands as a potential gateway to deeper conversation to a subject that has had its share of headlines in the last few years, the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
Grounding the globe-spanning epidemic in Boston, the film focuses on Michael Rezendes (Ruffalo) and Walter "Robby" Robinson (Keaton), two home-grown reporters for The Boston Globe who find themselves up against the powerful hierarchy covering up six alleged incidents of juvenile sexual abuse. The revelation hits home for the Catholic-raised duo and they manage to convince their editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), to initiate a long-term journalistic investigation referred to as, wait for it… a "spotlight." However, it’s going to be a tough road for Michael, Robby, and their gumshoe cohorts, played by impressive supporting players like Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, and Brian d’Arcy James, with Billy Crudup as an attorney of abuse victims.
For Ruffalo, the choice of jumping on board a potentially controversial film such as Spotlight fits his current pattern, as his mainstream success as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers films has yielded the privilege of choosing profound, biographical films like Foxcatcher and last year’s TV movie, The Normal Heart. However, for Keaton, who is in the midst of a career resurgence off his Oscar-nominated performance in Birdman, the former comedian and Caped Crusader now tackles deeper political drama with not only this film, but next year’s The Founder, in which he plays McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc in what is rumored to be critical anti-fast-food agitprop.
Yet, for Spotlight, despite possibly drawing the ire of Bostonians and The Vatican, the rather uncomfortable topic of sexual abuse of children may nevertheless unify audiences in their indignation. Additionally, the trailer appears to examine the claims of the victims in question, paralelling their story with that of a member of the corrupt infrastructure who recalcitrantly resists exposure. In that sense, the film seems to couple its outrage-inspiring aim with a deeper character study.
Spotlight hits theaters on November 6.