Much has already been written about how un-cinematic Spotlight‘s direction is and I agree 100%. Comparisons to All the President’s Men are appropriate as far as subject matter goes but in terms of execution the two really couldn’t be further apart. McCarthy lacks Pakula’s masterful handling of atmosphere and paranoia, and also Fincher’s obsession and precision that he applied to Zodiac; his dissection of professional journalism. Spotlight‘s only real fault is that it feels like mere drama as opposed to a piece of full-blooded cinema. That being said, with performances and a plot this engaging the film remains totally riveting.
Keaton, Ruffalo, Tucci, McAdams and Schrieber are all chameleons when the work demands it of them and they all disappear into their roles here. It’s a showstopping ensemble to say the least and rarely does a scene go by where you aren’t electrified by one of the actors of screen. I’m long overdue getting familiar with McCarthy’s work but this one really gave me the kick to seek out his other movies. Spotlight is one of the most engaging films I’ve seen recently and impressively avoids being heavy-handed for the most part, probably because McCarthy avoids letting the film feel “handled” in any way. It might mean the movie looks flat and void of any visual panache, but it ensures that the words and performances are front and centre.