Film Review – Spotlight

31 Jan

[ezcol_1third]redmires conduit[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]Thursday. I walk near Redmires with Sue. Here’s the conduit curving over the moors to the reservoir. Should’ve changed lens. Cutting ‘elbows’ is naff. A lazy snapper’s a bad snapper.

We spoke of films, including Spotlight, due out next day. I told of sexual abuse, relatively mild, by at least four male carers at Spurgeons Homes in Kent, where we were placed from 1963 to 1967. (There will  have been others, perhaps female carers too.) This abuse was not, subjectively, our worst experience there but its coexistence with the abusers’ Baptist faith made a dangerous cocktail. Sue, from a secular Jewish family, agreed and added that their torment would been projected back on us as ’causes’ of their temptation, anguish and self loathing.  [/ezcol_2third_end]

I’ve now seen Spotlight and it’s very good. Fine acting and strong but subtle characterisation, splendid dialogue and tight story telling without sensationalism – even the use of music is restrained – make it so. That and an edge-of-seat tale that needs no histrionics. But this is not a story of child abuse. Indeed, in only two fleeting scenes do children appear at all. This is about systemic cover up and its exposure through the sterling but not unproblematic investigative work of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe. (An obvious comparator is All the President’s Men, about the “Woodstein” duo at the Washington Post who broke the Watergate story, but there’s less razzmatazz here and it’s the better for it.) I should add that a central ‘character’ is Irish Boston, biggest village in America. The workings of small town politics, interwoven with the formidable hierarchy of the Catholic Church, are teased out with skill, nuance and precision timing.

So another filmic thumbs up from Steel City Scribblings but, as I said, this is not a film about child abuse. That story remains to be told. Meanwhile I’ll say just this: whereas three of the four sexual abusers I knew of at Spurgeons were married, Vatican insistence on celibacy has to be a huge aggravant. The abuse here, with Boston just the starting point, was on such a scale that its prevalence in any city could be accurately predicted by applying a factor – six percent – to the number of priests and Brothers operating there. I’ve said before that abuse is inevitable where children are in the care of those who do not love them, and where that care is not subject to close and intelligent scrutiny. But celibacy throws petrol on the sparks. When, I wonder, will the implications be taken up by investigators of Buddhist run orphanages and schools in Asia?

2 Replies to “Film Review – Spotlight

  1. Useful to read your review. On the strength of your last review I went to see the Danish Girl and enjoyed it. I have also seen Room excellent. Youth sounds very good. Any other recommendations?

    • Glad you enjoyed Danish Girl, Maggie, and ta for the tip on Room, which I’d had my eye on and will now see, defo. Other recommends? The Revenant. A few friends told me it’s not their bag but I say give this big screener a go. It has its cliches but DiCaprio is awesome. The scene stealer though is the American wintry wild; beautiful, fiercely depicted. That, and the film makers having the confidence not to shoe-horn in a “love angle”, had me cheerfully overlooking the fact that – never mind attacks by bears, Arikara, Frenchies and back-stabbing comrades – Leonardo would have died of hypothermia at least three times a day in the course of his adventures!

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