Monday, July 04, 2016


On the flight from Reykjavik to Boston on Saturday I watched Spotlight, the Oscar-winning and -deserving film about the Boston Globe team that doggedly pursued child molesting-priests within Catholic Church and the power structure that hid and supported them until they were finally rooted out, triggering worldwide reform. I cried a lot.

Part of what moved me was what they were after, yes. Child molestation is emotional stuff, and priests are an easy mark. But just as much as that, I was moved by the purity of the quest and wholeheartedness of the investigative journalists, especially Mark Ruffalo. It is rare in life, and certainly in my life, that one can have as full-bodied a commitment to what one is doing than the Globe's team does in this movie: they know what they are doing and why they are doing it, and they are on it, damn the torpedoes.

In this quality, Spotlight hearkens back to a venerable tradition in movies. All the President's Men, Norma Rae, Silkwood, and even Erin Brockovich come to mind as forebears,  Michael Moore kind of lives this life, though he has devolved into a parody of himself, much as Orson Welles was captured and subsumed by Citizen Kane.  But it felt like I hadn't seen a movie like this in a while.

To the Spotlight team's credit, and here I mean writers and directors, they resisted the temptation to make the journalists altogether holier than thou. It would be plot spoilerly to spell out exactly what I mean by that, but they exercise restraint, even though they set us up with red herrings to think they're not gonna. I am being deliberately mysterious here, because I think everyone should absolutely see this movie.

In closing, I should say that I was embarassed by how much I was crying and kept turning my head so that nobody could see. I don't know why I am such a sap and so easily moved, at some times, when I have seen a million movies and TV shows and know, at some level, that in the end it is just a movie. I tried to justify it to myself by saying I was tired and had gotten up at 4:45 to herd my family cab to Charles de Gaulle airport (all true!), which in my mind's eye was going to be a chaotic vision of people from all over the world flying hither and thither and long lines, when in fact it was anything but that. But that's the subject of another blog post altogether.

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