Mass is an American indie drama signed by actor Fran Kranz in his directorial and screenwriting debut. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with Bleecker Street buying the distribution rights. The plot of the film follows the meeting of two couples of grieving parents who meet to discuss the great tragedy of several years ago in which their sons were involved and which changed their lives.
Mass movie review, plot
The meeting is being held in a small, isolated room in the basement of the Catholic Church. The people who participate in this gathering, as well as the topic of their discussion, are initially a mystery, but based on the conversation of the meeting organizers, we can easily conclude that it will not be a cheerful gathering, on the contrary. Everything is talked about vaguely, but the ambiguity itself is somehow a good reason for anxiety and contrition – ready-made food will probably not be eaten, but tissues will be necessary.
This film is mysteriously interesting from the very beginning, and the very conversation about what will happen in this small room provides a feeling of uncertainty. It is inevitable that you do not ask yourself which topic could require so much caution, but again it should be so important that this meeting must be held. Some things have to be said, and some of the things that seem vital simply cannot be said. Saying them out loud would mean acknowledging, accepting and facing the unthinkable, so some statements remain unfinished, but even those have noticeable weight.
When the meeting begins, even the initial polite chats and pleasures are tense, while the silences leave the impression of heavy silence. One look at these people is enough to conclude how different they are, some are paralyzed by years of grief, some are full of anger. The silence and non-verbal, covert glances exchanged between married couples speak volumes about their vulnerability, and it soon becomes clear that these characters we have yet to meet need to speak louder than anyone else.
Essentially, this film consists of conversations of four people who have suffered a loss and who do not know how to explain, rationalize or find meaning in their suffering. Our understanding is necessary for the dialogue and monologues of these characters to function. These painful confrontations are not exactly the ideal choice for a debut film, especially since the interactions are based on emotions. However, the author does not experience attributing guilt in any sense, he does not place the grief of one character above the grief of another, and he does not place the loss of one parental couple above the grief of another parental couple.
Casting has gathered a quartet of recognizable and accomplished character actors who are up to the task here – there really should be some important film awards for the acting ensemble. The author shoots them mostly in close-ups, so we can observe how the thoughts and emotions of these characters control the discussion. The director uses some tricks / techniques such as switching static shots to manual shooting and the like, but fortunately he does not divert attention from the way these actors establish the appropriate dynamics between married couples.
Mass is a difficult and honest drama about grieving, forgiving and reconciling with others and with oneself – a great indie film set in one room with a first-class acting quartet and complex emotional issues. Final rating: 9/10
Mass movie cast and characters
- Reed Birney as Richard
- Martha Plimpton as Gail Perry
- Ann Dowd as Linda
- Jason Isaacs as Jay Perry
- Breeda Wool as Judy
- Kagen Albright as Anthony
- Michelle N. Carter as Kendra