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When the Boston Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Written by
Garabedian's law office has shelved copies of the Dominion Law Reports, a Canadian series. Several other law books display the CLB logo of Canada Law Book, evidence that scenes were shot in Toronto. See more »
All the Vatican's Men in Outstanding Investigative Journalism Film Revealing the Skeletons in the Boston Archdiocese's Closet
In "All the President's Men", young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered a national political scandal when they, through their investigative journalism, revealed the White House under then President Richard Nixon was using campaign funding to finance dirty tricks of political enemies, nicknamed Watergate. In "Spotlight", a similar team of investigative reporters reveal a scandal of epic proportions which makes much of the Watergate scandal seem tame by comparison. They uncovered widespread sexual abuse of minors committed by priests of the Roman Catholic Church who, in turn, hid the crimes. Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Walter V. Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Martin "Marty" Baron (Leiv Schreiber), Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) work for a group of investigative reporters within the Boston Globe called "Spotlight" who succeed in finding the skeletons in the Boston Diocese proverbial closet. For many years prior to the sexual abuse scandal, Spotlight had investigated and reported on many other ground-breaking stories.
The story begins with a quick flash-back to 1976 when a priest is jailed for sexual abusing a minor. The film then cuts to 2001. Marty Baron (Schreiber), a Jewish Floridian, becomes the main editor for the Boston Globe. He meets the different editors and journalists, and learns of work by Spotlight. A Globe column reveals a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, claims Cardinal Law, then Archbishop of Boston, knew Father John Geoghan, a priest within Law's diocese, was sexually abusing children, and the bishop did not bring him to the attention of authorities. Baron urges the Spotlight team to investigate further to see whether the claim is true and an isolated incident, or if there is more to the story. The "seed" is similar to the break-in of the democratic headquarters at the Watergate Complex which eventually revealed the Nixon White House had been engaging in multiple plots against perceived political enemies.
The Spotlight team is headed by Walter "Robby" Robinson (Keaton), a no-nonsense fair but tough reporter/editor. They agree to Baron's wishes and begin researching deeper to see if there is a larger story. Their first lead is the attorney mentioned in the article, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci). Rezendes (Ruffalo) peruses Garabedian who acted as negotiator between the Boston Archdiocese and victims of Father Geoghan. The reporter wishes the attorney to reveal names of the victims, but at first Garabedian declines. Eventually, Garabedian agrees to contact victims, who are now much older, and ask them if they are willing to speak with Rezendes without revealing their names. Eventually, interviews are set up at the attorney's offices. The question then becomes whether there were other priests who engaged in similar criminal behavior against minors.
On another front, other members of the team, including Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams), begin discovering the unspeakable reality of other victims possibly at the hands of more priests, aside from Geoghan. Then a tip from a former rehabilitation counselor for priests informs the team that, based on statistics, there may be as many as 90 priests involved with sexual abuse of children in the Boston Area alone. The team then appropriates volumes of an American guide book of Roman Catholic priests, published once a year, which lists the whereabouts of every clergyman in the church in terms of dioceses and parishes. The investigators make a startling discovery. Certain names in the book over several years are listed as "on leave due to illness", "on administrative leave", or other designations of inactivity after only one to three years at a particular parish, leading the team to consider these may be priests who engaged in sexual misconduct with minors. If true, it would place blame not only on Cardinal Law as possibly covering up the church's indiscretions but the entire Roman Catholic Church, all the way to the Vatican.
This is a stunning film about the power of a small group of urban reporters to uncover wrongdoing by one of the oldest and far-reaching institutions in the world: The Roman Catholic Church. In particular high marks for Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes, Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, and Michael Keaton as Robbie Robinson. So much of the story parallels the Watergate Scandal of several decades earlier. As horrible as the actual victimization of minors by the priests, often boys because they were less likely to "squeal" because of the shame, the cover-up by Law was nearly as criminal. Instead of taking the priests to justice, as he should have done, he tried to cover it up by offering settlements to the families, often when the victims were minors. Law and probably other church officials moved the priests to other parishes where they engaged in similar behavior, thus allowing widespread sexual abuse to continue. It was eventually revealed that not only did these sexual predators victimize children in other parts of the country, it was happening internationally.
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