It’s got a big ensemble cast, but if you want a measure of what Spotlight does very, very well, keep an eye on the new guy. In the film’s opening minutes, new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives at The Boston Globe. In Schreiber’s canny performance, Baron is woefully free of warm ’n’ fuzzies; he’s a blunt outsider in a clubby town—he came from Miami, for crying out loud. We spot him as a corporate stooge who will surely act as antagonist to the Globe’s band of reporter heroes, those hard-talking pros with their sleeves rolled up. In a story full of hard-won disclosures, Baron’s gradual emergence as a beacon of journalistic integrity and moral conviction is perhaps the movie’s subtlest revelation.
It is no disrespect to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman to say that he was often difficult to look at onscreen; his lack of vanity saw him embracing schlubby, disheveled, or out-and-out gross characters. Hoffman’s February death left a few projects still awaiting release, of which God’s Pocket is the first to hit theaters. True to form, he looks terrible in it.
But does he inhabit his role with his customary uncanny veracity? He does.