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Movie Review: 'Spotlight'


Now let's turn to the dramatic treatment given to a major news story. It's a horrifying story, uncovered by The Boston Globe of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Kenneth Turan reviews the film "Spotlight."

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Spotlight" doesn't call attention to itself. It's self-effacing and low-key, and director Tom McCarthy encourages its fistful of top actors, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber, to blend into an eloquent ensemble. One reason for this realistic approach is that the story "Spotlight" tells is significant twice over, first for its depiction of what proved to be international crimes, but also for illustrating society's need for old-fashioned investigative journalism - the kind of telling truth to power that's increasingly in jeopardy in the age of quick and short. It was to tell those kinds of stories that The Boston Globe formed the Spotlight unit. Here, the team's leader, played by Keaton, explains his job to new editor Marty Baron, played by Schreiber.


MICHAEL KEATON: (As Walter Robby Robinson) You're an editor for the Spotlight team.

LIEV SCHREIBER: (As Marty Baron) I prefer to think of myself as a player coach, but yes.

KEATON: (As Walter Robby Robinson) Are you familiar with Spotlight?

SCHREIBER: (As Marty Baron) No, not particularly.

KEATON: (As Walter Robby Robinson) Well, we are a four-person investigative team. We report to Ben Bradlee, Jr., and we keep our work confidential.

TURAN: The new editor tells Robinson he wants Spotlight to focus on the accusations of clergy sexual misconduct. Everyone is nervous about the enormity of what they're taking on, but the reporters plunge ahead, interviewing, taking notes, reading through mountains of material. At one point, reporter Mike Rezendes, played by Ruffalo, gets into a battle with his boss about how to proceed.


MARK RUFFALO: (As Mike Rezendes) Are you telling me that if we run a story with 50 pedophile priests in Boston...

KEATON: (As Walter Robby Robinson) Mike, we'll get into the same catfight you got into on Porter, which made a lot of noise but changed things not one bit. We need to focus on the institution, not the individual priests.

TURAN: "Spotlight" is both damning and inspiring, depressing and heartening. Though it's set over a decade ago, it's the "All The President's Men" for our time. And, boy, do we need it now.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.