Spotlight is one of the most disturbing films I've seen this year, and considering I saw absolutely nothing of the disturbing nature of the situation throughout, that's an achievement.
Spotlight is the true story of how the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team of reporters exposed the depths of a massive scandal going on in the Catholic Church, with charges of molestation of children. Along the way, as the story becomes bigger and bigger, the team of reporters are deeply affected by it.
What amazed me about Spotlight is how un-character driven it is. The personal lives of the Spotlight team (played with very subdued performances that slowly get more emotional by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James) are barely in the movie. Instead, it focuses on the deeply fascinating and yet disturbing story they are trying to uncover: how the Catholic Church not only knew about priests abusing young boys, but how it systematically covered it up. Some people could take issue with the absence of character development, but it's still there, just not as directly as most films. The filmmakers know that this story is fascinating without making heroes out of the characters, and it works.
The disturbing nature of the film is due, in part, to the fantastic direction. There are montages in the movie that become disturbing and very memorable because of a simple music choice (it's not the ambient, scary music you're expecting.) There are shots that are haunting because of the presence of a Catholic Church. And it might not even be intentional; it might just be Boston's crazy amount of Catholic churches. Which makes it way, way scarier.
However, while the movie was extremely captivating, it had a slow start for me, due in part to the slow start of the "Spotlight" reporters discovery of this catastrophe. It was set in an average, gray office without much color and just bored me. (My mom, who’s worked at newspapers her whole career, says it’s very realistic though.) It wasn't until discussion about the events with victims happened that I was truly captivated.
At the end of the movie, when all the cities where events of molestation happened were listed, I saw "St. Paul/Minneapolis," where I lived. And it kind of broke my heart. I was emotionally attached to this story. And at the end of the day, even though the movie doesn't show any salacious content, it certainly tells a tremendous and disturbing story, and one I'll remember for a long time to come.