Hollywood hits hard with a film that explores a disturbing tale of abuse.
This post is part of our “Movies and Manhood” series that gives some of our regular writers an opportunity to share their views on how movies have impacted their thinking about men’s roles today. Our objective is to find the intersection between these films and the themes and topics we address here at The Good Men Project. Be sure to check out our other posts here.
Spotlight is a terse, low-key, terrifically scripted gem of a movie, with perhaps the best ensemble acting of any of the nominated pictures. It is a story for our time, of our time, and emblematic of our time.
In depicting the work of the Boston Globe Spotlight team in uncovering and printing the story of pedophile priests, and the bureaucracy that covered up for them, the film explores some pretty wrought and highly charged territory. We are reminded of the power of the priest in the community when one of the victims of the abuse explains why he didn’t tell anyone. “They were like God to us,” he tells the reporter.
The film is an exploration of power and powerlessness; of choices and being chosen; of asking questions and covering up answers. The objects of priestly attention, “troubled” and poor youth living in the Boston inner city, were put in an untenable situation—not only would they have had to admit to being involved with homosexual behaviour, but they would have had to go up against the Church and its surrogates, enablers, and benefactors. It begs a central question in the male canon—how can we stand up, when of the pressure is exerted on us to sit down and shut up.
Spotlight tells that tale of power—and children—abused. It is about courage—the courage to tell truth to power, to persevere when the odds are stacked against you. It is keen storytelling, unfolding through a series of brilliantly understated vignettes. In the end, it is a film that doesn’t dazzle; rather it moves us steadily and inexorably towards a deep, pervasive appreciation of courage, and grace; and maybe even forgiveness.
Photo: First Look Media
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