SPOTLIGHT – Review by Susan Granger

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Sure to wind up in many 10 Best lists this year, this is the fascinating, true crime story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that revealed the Roman Catholic Church’s systematic ‘cover-up’ of pedophile priests. Spotlight is the name of the Globe’s investigative team, headed by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and comprised of Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sarah Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matty Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). They report to managing editor Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery), whose father figured prominently in the Watergate-themed “All the President’s Men.” Read on…

After the Globe was bought by the New York Times in 2001, there’s a new, cost-cutting boss, Marty Baron (Liev Schrieber), who is not only Jewish but also an out-of-towner. He fearlessly urges them to pursue molestation allegations against a single priest, a subject the newspaper has traditionally ignored under tacit pressure from Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou) and officials in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Spotlight soon learns that it’s not an isolated incident. Indeed, scores of similar claims have been privately settled by the Church’s evasive attorney, Eric MacLeish (Billy Crudup), outside of the legal system, and those involving paperwork have been sealed by complicit judges. Thereby “turning child abuse into a cottage industry.”

Scripted as a fact-based, journalistic procedural by Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”) and director Tom McCarthy (“The Station Agent,” “Win Win”), it reveals the institutional conspiracy that protected these predators and perpetuated their heinous behavior, moving them from parish to parish.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t allow for much character development on the part of the Spotlight team, who doggedly pursue leads and interview victims and parishioners who are willing to talk. A notable exception is testy Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), who steers them in the right direction when he realizes their serious intent.

Nevertheless, the entire ensemble scores – delivering solid performances.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Spotlight” is a taut, compelling 10, illuminating a timely, still-relevant issue.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.