ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

This is probably one of the more important films of the decade. Which means it pisses a lot of people off.

1. This movie is an account of the true story of how The Boston Globe investigated allegations of children being raped by priests in Boston in 2001, and uncovered a world-wide system of child sex abuse that the Catholic Church had been allowing for 30 years.

Like most people, I know about the scandal. But I never really knew about how it was first discovered, or how much the Church actually, officially knew. This movie taught me a lot about both of those points, in a way that was both nimble and hard-hitting. It's one of the best movies about investigative reporting I've ever seen. This is All the President's Men of the 21st century.

2. About halfway through this movie, I wondered why nobody had been assassinated during the investigation or production of the film. It not only makes the Catholic Church look like a bunch of criminals, but the city of Boston, too. As one character said, "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one."

3. The movie makes the point several times that priest abuse isn't about being gay. It's not that the priests preferred boys, they just preferred children being available and vulnerable, and usually from hard lives. Boys were easier to keep quiet than girls, because of the extra heaping of guilt and shame that boys would feel. The movie does show girl victims, as well, though.

4. The victims depicted in the movie make it clear that they weren't just raped physically, they were raped spiritually. Boston is a hard-core Catholic town, and several victims said they saw priests as being close to God. The trauma ripped apart their very soul.

5. The first half hour is spent introducing all the main characters, and the movie zips from news rooms to houses to churches to courtrooms to law offices, talking to everybody along the way. It requires sustained concentration to keep up. This isn't a "turn your brain off and enjoy it" movie.

6. The ensemble cast of actors was great, especially Michael Keaton. But the screenplay was so good that half their job was done. The actors had to kind of channel the words and allow their natural emotions to surface, which they all did beautifully. Director Tom McCarthy (who was not very well known outside the indie world - until now) holds everything together with a graceful tension.

7. Just when you think the bad guys are going to be exposed and justice served, you are stopped from feeling too proud. The movie accuses all of us of being guilty of knowing things that must be stopped, but for one reason or another, we look the other way.

8. As filthy and corrupt as the Catholic Church looks here, the filmmakers must have depicted things very accurately because the Church's official response to the movie was basically, "Yep, they discovered it. But we're all better now."

Actual Boston Globe headline 11/10/15
Actual Boston Globe headline 11/10/15

9. There's no violence, or sex, and very little swearing in the movie. There's nothing to distract you from following the story. Nothing is done in a manner that is gratuitous or exploitative. This is a pure piece of film that documents the discovery of one of the biggest conspiracies ever.

What did you think? Was the subject handled fairly? How did you react? Add some points below!


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