Film Review: Spotlight

I don’t go to the theater much anymore; however, a friend recommended Spotlight, and I am thrilled that she did.

After sitting through the overly loud previews of coming attractions, I was gripped and held by the rapid fire efforts of the Boston Globe’s special investigative team, “Spotlight.” The members of this impressive team, with the blessing of Globe’s new editor, went where others were afraid to go as they heroically fought to bring the very powerful Archdiocese of Boston to account for the longstanding cover-up of priestly sex abuse of youngsters.

The acting did not seem like acting at all, as I was drawn into the intrigues and challenges thrown up by the politically and financially powerful Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law. The widespread priestly pedophilia had been successfully swept under the rug for decades, and the archdiocesan forces were not about to let that rug be thrown back without a desperate fight—the sacred institution of the church had to be protected at any cost. It was the institution that must be preserved and protected, even if this demanded threats and clever legal maneuvering; the matters of psychological destruction of the abused youngsters and justice were to be kept secondary—and as secret as possible.

Team Spotlight finally throws the spotlight on Cardinal Law’s clever web in such devastating detail as to leave him without comment when the thorough and damning Globe report was finally published. The tearful, angry, and desperate details of so many of the adult survivors among the eighty-seven (or more) victims will sear themselves into your heart. Doubtlessly, my having been a Catholic priest back in the 1960s deepened my interest in the details of this powerful movie. Nevertheless, this movie will surely touch deeply anyone who is personally interested, or has acquaintances interested, in the power of the Catholic Church. At the end of the movie, I wanted to jump up and shout to all in the theater, “Tell all your friends and contacts about this gripping masterpiece.”