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By Hollywood’s explosion-heavy standards, writer/director Todd McCarthy’s Spotlight – which follows the real-life 2001 investigation by the Boston Globe into the Catholic Church’s protection of paedophile priests – seems as close to drama-free as it gets.

When the paper’s new editor-in-chief, out-of-towner Martin Baron (Liev Schreiber), suggests the investigative unit (known as Spotlight) take a look at paedophile priests, supervising editor Walter “Robbie” Robinson (Michael Keaton) is dismissive, saying his team – Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) – have better stories to run down. But they get to work, and much of what follows is simply following journalists around as they do their job, whether it’s going through archives in a pre-online age, pushing sources (including Stanley Tucci as a colourful lawyer) to talk, or persuading the people upstairs that the real story is still around the corner.

This smart, subtle film’s low-key approach is a vital part of what it’s trying to say: the people trying to cover up this evil went out of their way to stifle any trace of drama, because they knew drama would bring attention to their crimes. This is gripping, at times horrifying, storytelling that’s movie-making at its – low-key – best.

Reviewed by Anthony Morris