Spotlight (2015) Review

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Turn on your Spotlight.

Spotlight (2015): 9 out of 10: Everyone has pet peeves when it comes to movies. We hate romantic comedies based entirely on misunderstandings; we hate horror films where no one’s cell phone works, or we simply hate movies that have either the word Adam or Sandler on the poster.

I hate true story movies that simply make things up. You know the type. We need a bad guy, so let’s take a real person and turn him into a racist (Hidden Figures), a murderer (Titanic), or a woman (Patch Adams). We need to condense the timeline and change real historical events (Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures again). We need to change the character’s sexuality so modern audiences can relate (The Danish Girl). We need fascist slaveholders to talk about democracy and freedom (300). And the list goes on and on. This is without even mentioning Mel Gibson’s historical dramas that might as well have dinosaurs wandering through them.

One of my other pet peeves? Movies that take place in an office or business world made by people who clearly have never spent more than a day working in one. Like ahistorical true stories, this is ripe territory for rage. We have the office politics of Catwoman’s evil beauty cream manufacturer. Not to be outdone, the less said about how Wayne Industries is run (a publicly traded company, mind you) in the Batman universe, the better. It isn’t just superhero movies either. Romantic comedies often need a trip to HR and no making everyone an architect does not solve that. (Seriously, do these movies even know what architects or museum directors or magazine publishers actually do during their workday?)

Spotlight easily could have fallen into both these traps. It simply doesn’t. The timeline is correct. The discussions between professionals sound well professional. There are no made up heavy’s creating drama, no fake romantic love interest, no surprise terrorist attack. Okay, it has the last one, but in all fairness, the movie’s timeline starts in August 2001 and runs through the end of the year. But even in that moment, the movie handles it with intelligence.

There is a calmness and a professionalism in this movie that is refreshing. It rings true in both the big and small things. It is one of the best films I have seen this year.

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