I generally try my very best these days to not read reviews or detailed discussions about movies before I watch them, I’ve started to feel they take away from the charm of discovering a movie. A short teaser is ideal, a long trailer is fine as well but the problem with a review is that it passes judgement which then creates pre-conceived notions in your own mind.
With Spotlight, I did read a review by Raja Sen before I watched the movie. I actually wasn’t aware of this movie until I was scrolling through one of those Oscar Contender discussions somewhere on the internet where this name came up. I googled it to realise it was releasing this very weekend. Since I knew nothing about it, I read this review – which gushed effusively about it BTW – and it seemed like my kind of movie (yeah, I can’t explain that – only feel it).
So I may have made up my mind to like it even before I watched it perhaps. I used to think this paints me into a corner in my mind perhaps but have recently realised that even this is no guarantee of not being disappointed (Star Wars VII, I’m looking at you). I think reading a review here helped me understand the context to the movie better, the culture of Boston, the realistic nature of how the profession of journalism is shown on screen. So to read reviews or not – well the jury is still out on that one.
But Spotlight, as I have said on another platform – is exactly how I like my movies – medium rare. Medium because the tenor of the movie is exquisitely balanced, there is only 1 scene where a character kind of loses it -the rest is how everyday life is, how people go about their jobs, how things are avoided, swept under the carpet, probed, nudged and eventually resolved. Rare because it picks takes you to a world, an issue that you may not know too much about except for what the tabloids screamed out and gives you a detailed lowdown into the world and the issue.
Journalism is not a sexy attractive profession but one which involves a lot of hard work, cold calling, filling up reams of paper, copying data from one source to the other and filling up Excel sheets. I’ll remember that the next time I complain about not being a ‘strategic partner’.
By eschewing any kind of melodrama, the realisticness of the movie is never compromised allowing you to completely transport yourself to Boston at the turn of the millennium. The lighting, the cinematography and the ambiance is perfect – I think crucial to distinguish a movie like this from a documentary. This a movie which the director puts on slow burn and allows to simmer as we go towards a denouement which has many everyday conflicts, and pseudo villains lurking in the background but no bad guy in house or an uncalled for twist.
For those not up on steak analogies – and cool as they may sound, even I’m not, who am I kidding – Spotlight is a perfectly brewed cup of tea for a balmy winter evening. Doesn’t promise more. Doesn’t deliver less. 5 stars.