Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Written by: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
Cinematographer: Masanobu Takayanagi
by Jon Cvack
In the manner of Jesus Camp, this is one of the most terrifying stories I’ve seen in a long time. Given the vanilla director attached, I was hoping for a decent film, but nothing like this, which completely exceeded my expectations. It takes a few minutes to get use to each of the characters, specifically Mark Ruffalo playing Mike Rezendes, who’s a single man, living in a slum apartment, boiling hot dogs on the stove, and trying to give everything he has to the story.
I recall the story when it went public. I was about 14 or 15 years old, not particularly politically engaged, or all that religious. While surprised, I failed to grasp the extent of it all. I suppose most film aficionados would come out of this film asking if anyone’s ever seen Deliver Us From Evil, which I haven’t. Mostly because I find the entire subject disturbing and rarely find myself in the mood to watch such a dark documentary. I was raised Catholic, having spent every year in either Sunday school or Tuesday Night “CCD” (I’m trying to find out what this stood for as I don’t recall), until I was confirmed in 8th grade. The next year, the story would break. And when I saw Chicago, IL up on that list I couldn’t help wondering whether or not that extended to my hometown of Orland Park. Sure enough, it did, with Reverend Michael W. O’Connell who used to be the Associate Pastor at my church, St. Michael’s, convicted of molesting a child at The Our Lady of the Woods church about two miles from where I live.
What’s most terrifying is that just as the Cardinal of Boston, Bernard Francis Law, was about to get subpoenaed by the state troopers he took off for Rome, where Pope John Paul II appointed him as archpriest, ostensibly a promotion. More frustrating, he was observed as a victim by the conservative wing of the Vatican. To this day, no charges have been made.
You can’t help wondering what type of attention this story would have received if 9/11 never occurred. Just as they were ready to reveal it, the whole world changed. I don’t recall hearing much discussion about it from my Catholic family. I suppose to some 6% of the church being sexual molesters wasn’t enough for them to boycott the religion, though I’d love to see this same logic used in other far less innocuous causes (how about the yearly call to Boycott the Starbucks secular Holiday cups?). Not that my individual family was ever all that faithful to the doctrine, though my grandparents and extended were far more honoring. In fact, my cousins attended Brother Rice, a catholic private school in the Chicago suburbs, where last summer over 100 victims came forward, stating that archdiocese was covering up evidence of abuse.
What’s most frightening is when you ponder over how many priests had never gotten caught due to ‘sealed’ evidence, or the victim’s fear of coming forward out of shame. Spotlight does an incredible job of limiting the big speeches and other drama. It’s a straightforward film, which these victims deserved. Michael Keaton in every way deserves the coveted statue for this role, playing similar to Jeff Daniel’s in The Martian as the exceptionally pragmatic and level-headed Walter Robinson, who’s determined to do the story right. There are no car chases, or sex, or shoot outs. It might be the best investigative movie since The Insider.
BELOW: One of the creepiest conclusions to a film
Thoughts on films, old and new
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