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Review: Truth & Spotlight

"One a thudding misfire and the other a thrill"


This month has brought two journalism movies, one a thudding misfire and the other a thrill. The former is Truth, a ham-fisted telling of the chain of events at CBS News that got Dan Rather fired. (Rather unfortunately, it contains a top-notch Cate Blanchett performance very much worth seeing.) The latter is this week’s entry, Spotlight, about the Boston Globe’s uncovering of systemic abuses in the Catholic church. Where Truth goes for over-scored speechifying, Spotlight gets down in the dirt, discount boots on the ground, and sends a stellar cast to pull the facts out out of a very Catholic town governed by a very influential religious body. Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo lead the Globe’s investigative unit, headed up by Michael Keaton, whose new boss is Liev Schrieber, who wants the church story. It’s a crackling ensemble, no particular actor pulling focus, just putting their heads down and doing good work, like the best reporters. At its highest, Spotlight touches the gold standard of All the President’s Men, fairly thrumming with the kind of intensity stirred up by the best procedurals. Director Tom McCarthy (Win Win, The Visitor) knows how to make the little big, but here he makes the big little—human, with confidence and grace. This is a terrific movie.

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