TIFF 2015: Spotlight


My Asshole compadres and I were enthusiastically discussing and comparing notes on all the wonderful films we’ve seen at TIFF over guacamole and cocktails when I raised the question of how difficult it can be to stay objective through TIFF-coloured glasses.

TIFF is exciting. I’d forgotten how exciting. The red carpets, the thrill of seeing eagerly anticipated movies before anyone else, and the frequent false alarm celebrity sightings (I could have sworn I saw Hillary Clinton last weekend outside TIFF Bell Lightbox but began to doubt myself when I heard her speak with a Ukranian accent) all make for as thrilling a trip to the cinema as you can get. Separating the quality of the film itself from the experience has been- I’m not going to lie- a challenge.

The anticipation I feel going into a TIFF screening and the focus I keep at all times at what’s happening onstage and onscreen made it particularly surprising that the couple sitting next to me at Monday’s international premiere of Spotlight, the true story of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, were making out through the beginning of the movie. That’s a TIFF first for me.

So you’ll excuse me- I hope- if I was a little distracted for a little while at the beginning. Luckily, the urgency of Spotlight soon caught even my neighbors’ attention and we could all sit back and enjoy the show. Well, maybe “enjoy” is the wrong word. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton play real-life Boston Globe journalists who exposed the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse at the hands of approximately 90 local priests. It’s not always an easy movie to watch. The interview scenes where survivors disclose the details of the abuse are harrowing and stomach-turning and the extent of the corruption on the part of the Church and so many others who turned a blind eye is infuriating.

Last week, I named All the President’s Men, The Insider, and Zodiac as my three favourite films about journalism. All three are based on real journalists and maintain suspense throughout while mostly avoiding melodrama. Spotlight works for many of the same reasons as those films did but doesn’t quite measure up to my favourites. It’s not always as tightly written as those  films and even drags a little in the middle but Keaton- who can’t seem to believe his luck getting great parts two years in a row– gives a passionate performance that always keeps things moving. He may get his second shot at Oscar with this film.

15 thoughts on “TIFF 2015: Spotlight

  1. Courtney Small

    This was my second favourite film of the festival. Really surprised by how well-executed it was. Great performances all around.

    Your remark about the couple making out reminded me of that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine was caught making out during Schindler’s List.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Matt Post author

      Haha yes!!!
      I wasn’t as enthusiastic as a lot of people were about Spotlight. It might have been a bit of TIFF fatigue. I read one article that it was the only film to screen at TIFF this year that is pretty much guaranteed a Best Picture nomination.
      What was your favourite by the way?


  2. In My Cluttered Attic

    That’s good to hear about Keaton. And I loved the three films you mentioned. Zodiac was especially interesting as I lived in Vallejo at the time the Zodiac was at the height of his crimes, and recall exactly how harrowing that time was in the Bay Area. The movie does a splendid job of capturing the hunt for, and anxiety from what the Zodiac killer stirred up. Mark Ruffalo was excellent as was Jake Gyllenhaal.

    Liked by 2 people


    Good review. I enjoyed the behind the scenes TIFF commentary too. This looks like a challenging film. Some great actors on board. The focus on journalism is quite intriguing. I’m glad you mentioned that angle. Are journalists a dying breed now? How will important stories get uncovered if all that’s left are online reporters? Let’s hope a movie like this inspires some viewers to seek the truth as a journalist.


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