Gemma Pilkington is a trainee solicitor working in the abuse department at Simpson Millar. In her latest blog she reviews the Boston Globe expose story in the film Spotlight.
I vowed to myself, approximately 14 months ago now to begin a blog. I have struggled with trying to write one ever since, but, nevertheless keep saying that I will do. To date the total number of times I have looked on the internet at how to write a blog, about 20, total blogs read to gain inspiration, lost count, total blog articles I have wrote 1!
Last night, finally, the inspiration struck! I felt the way I assume writers feel after they have experienced a long bout of ‘writers block’, wanting to get my thoughts down on paper ASAP. Last night, my boyfriend and I went to the cinema, as we frequently do these days since being Cineworld unlimited members, I wanted to see the new release ‘Spotlight’.
Spotlight tells the story of when The Boston Globe exposed child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. Being a trainee solicitor working in the child abuse area, this naturally interested me. ’Why would it interest you? Surely you have enough of it at work? I hear you all cry. Well, no, I am one of the lucky ones who actually really enjoys their job. So, off I went to see it dragging my boyfriend with me.
Now don’t read this expecting a full, thorough review, I am only just managing my second blog piece, never mind turn my hand to movie critiquing. I am simply sharing my thoughts.
The film as previously said, tells the story of reporters at The Boston Globe uncovering a cover-up of child abuse within one of the oldest and at one time most trusted institutions, the Roman Catholic Church. I will keep it vague so as not to release any spoilers but basically, the films follows the spotlight team on their journey of discovery showing us important moments along the way. The very sensitive/taboo topic is handled with respect, has been well researched and helps to give an insight into the struggles which victims face.
Rachael McAdams stars as a reporter within the spotlight team who we see facing her own personal battles with what she is uncovering due to her connection with the Catholic church. She attends church several times a week with her Nanna having been brought up Catholic, like many others in Boston and even though was not herself abused is affected by what she is uncovering. McAdams we see interviewing victims in a considerate but thorough manner, insisting that detail needs to be given rather than simply using the umbrella term ‘molested’. McAdams’ insistence for the victims to explain to her exactly what happened emphasises the importance of explaining the abuse, it is no longer the PG version of events that is simply required in order to make it easier for everyone to pallet, but she realises that it is only in the detail that will make it harder for people to ignore them.
We are introduced to Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), a lawyer who is representing victims, some might say, the Peter Garsden of America. Tucci is interviewed and consulted along the way by another of the Spotlight team, assisting them in understanding the systemic nature of abuse. Tucci says “if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one’ evidencing the conspiracy in the iconic institution that is the church and showing that it isn’t just the paedophile, the parish or the church at fault but everyone who has turned a blind eye and allowed it to continue.
The film is more thrilling than some action films, portraying the struggle that the reporters faced in ensuring that the story was investigated and published at the right time with the right evidence to avoid the scandal again being covered-up, and also the struggle that victims face in being heard. It ends with a poignant clip of a list informing us of where abuse has been uncovered since the 2002 break through; many countries are listed including several places within the UK, Manchester being one of them, reiterating how much of a world wide spread, tragic problem it is and more importantly showing victims that they are not alone.
Specialist abuse solicitors
My only worry about this film is that I fear that people will watch it and only see child abuse as being problematic in the church. A sad fact is that it is not just a problem with members of the clergy. The clients that my colleagues and I meet through the course of our work as specialist abuse solicitors are survivors from a variety of backgrounds. One of our biggest group actions to date is against Manchester City Council for the alleged abuse at the hands of ‘carers’ in children’s homes in and around Manchester. We also represent victims who allege abuse by individuals such as the recently deceased ex Labour peer Greville Janner.
In short, it is a serious, important film which my boyfriend and I both enjoyed and would recommend, unlike The Revenant!