Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we spend most of our time stumbling around in the dark. Suddenly, a light gets turned on and there’s a fair share of blame to go around. – Marty Baron, The Boston Globe
Spotlight is painful to watch because it speaks so much about the truth. And the truth hurts. It talks about one of every parents’ worst fear for their children, and it talks about every child’s greatest nightmare, the boogeyman. This boogeyman comes in the guise of the man of the Lord. He befriends the child at church, takes him out for ice cream, visits him at home where he is always welcome because single Mom is grateful for the father figure, tucks him to bed, then fondles his wee wee while he, the Rev. Fr. also plays with his own wee wee. Next, the Father starts asking for ‘little’ favors like oral sex and anal sex from him, and asks the child to keep this between them. And before the child realizes that he is the boogeyman, he has already developed a faulty conception of sexuality, is beset by shame and guilt, and is suicidal.
One will get this mood throughout the film. The truth is at every corner of the city of Boston, waiting to scare and shock the main characters, but it starts out in a subtle mood. A journalist retires, a new boss gets hired to navigate the thriving paper, reporters search out for a new beat… But when the boss gives the investigative team a new assignment, they started to sail in dangerous waters. And as they gather more facts and are confronted with more evidences, they realized just how close they are to the victims and to the perpetrators themselves.
Even though this is based on real life events, the film did not sacrifice entertainment for documentation purposes, nor did it come out moralistic and preachy. Perhaps, this is what makes it hit home on the viewers. You know that what happened to the victims could happen to just anyone. They are real people. The journalists who fought tooth and nail to uncover the truth did not do it out of heroism – they felt it is their social responsibility to challenge an institution as old as the centuries and the justice system.
Spotlight will evoke fear in you, and this is not even a horror film. The fear is real because sexual predators are everywhere, even in the most unlikely places like the church, and the offender could be just anyone, even the priest who just celebrated the Holy Mass. At the same time, the film evokes a feeling of fearlessness. One doesn’t have to be a journalist to expose any wrongdoings and to possibly save a life. One only has to be a mindful citizen, a concerned neighbor, and a morally responsible individual to ensure that our little ones are safe. After all, in the words of Edwin Burke, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. The Spotlight team knows this.
The church thinks in centuries.
I don’t mean prayed for. I mean preyed upon.
It’s not just Boston. It’s the whole country. It’s the whole world. And it goes off to the Vatican.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.