Spotlight

3.5 Stars

Sometimes true stories don’t deserve to be brought to the big screen; this is not one of those times.

Spotlight has managed to take a story which admittedly doesn’t have huge ups and downs, you even know what will happen in the end, and yet it’s delivered in such a way that it remains captivating throughout.

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Spotlight is the name of a team of investigative journalists who uncover hard-hitting stories at the Boston Globe. In 2001, editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) starts working for the newspaper and wastes no time in making his mark. He suggests to the head of Spotlight, Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), his team including look further into the case of a priest who was allegedly sexually abusing children with the full knowledge of the archbishop of Boston. Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) are doing most of the interviewing work, tracking down victims to confirm and elaborate on their experiences.

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While all of the acting was virtually flawless, Mark Ruffalo is particularly good in his role, even down to the fact that Michael Rezendes is of Portuguese decent – Mark really does look Portuguese! But much more than that, as an actor who is passionate about human rights, this really shines through in his performance.

Even though most people already know about the sex-abuse scandals of the Catholic church, this film was very important because it breathes life into it again and gives it a greater sense of realism. It’s worth noting that this is an authentic account of what happened, the main journalists have vouched for its accuracy. If the film itself isn’t enough to give you a jolt, then watch out for the credits at the end – they list all the locations around the world where similar scandals have been brought to light. It’s not a short list, by any means.

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It isn’t really fair to compare this to a fictional movie where anything could happen, which is why my rating may seem low – but for this genre it’s at the top of its game.

Spotlight premieres in Sweden on February 12.

The Revenant

3.5 Stars

That bear scene, though.

If there’s any reason at all to see The Revenant, it’s certainly for the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio. This role demanded everything that he had, and he delivered 100 percent. There’s a heartfelt scene where he’s hugging his son, and his emotions are so intense that he’s producing deep forehead wrinkles in a formation I’ve never even seen before.

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Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) are part of a hunting team sourcing fur pelts in the woods. With native American Indians on their tail, their hard-earned hoard is threatened and their leader, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) must decide what to do next. When unruly team member John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) starts to show his rebellious side, tensions start to run high.

Special mention to Tom Hardy whose acting was also outstanding. His accent is so perfect it’s easy to forget he’s actually a Londoner. As the sinister Fitzgerald he’s able to give creepy looks just with his eyes, reminiscent of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler.

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The violence and gore in this film is perhaps even more than Tarantino-level – and that’s saying something. It’s clear to see that no expense has been spared with getting the special effects right, especially in the surreal scene with the Grizzly bear (see trailer). Then of course the beautiful wintery landscapes are a joy to behold, director Alejandro Iñárritu yet was very particular about using only natural landscapes and light – no CGI was used for these shots.

Yes, the quality of many aspects of this film is extremely high. So why only 3.5 stars? Actually it’s the storyline. It was good, but just not compelling enough to be remarkable. The Revenant is worth more for its individual parts than the overall package.

The Revenant premieres in Sweden on January 29.