Title – Mass (2021)
Director – Fran Kranz (feature debut)
Cast – Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney
Plot – Four victims of a violent tragedy convene together to discuss the event that drew them all together and open up about how the occurrence has affected them and how they think of each other.
“I’m hopeful that we all think that this was a good thing to do by the time we leave here today.”
Review by Eddie on 25/05/2022
For his debut film as a director, actor turned filmmaker Franz Kranz has developed a tough, uncompromising and gripping dialogue driven exploration of grief and loss that provides its four pronged group of performers the chance to showcase their talents in ways films rarely allow for.
Shot over the period of two weeks and taking place almost entirely around a fold up table in a church’s meeting room, Mass is very much the type of film that could be transported instantly to the stage and take place virtually in the same way but that doesn’t make Kranz’s feature any less important and worth seeking out as it tackles a tough subject matter in a way that is both graceful, truthful and confronting.
Slowly revealing itself in more light as the runtime wears on, initially we are not too sure why Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton’s Jay and Gail are meeting with Ann Dowd’s and Reed Birney’s Linda and Richard but as we begin to understand through Kranz’s carefully constructed script and the expert delivery of the performances, there’s a dark and life-changing tragedy at the core of their relationship that has defined who they have become as individual’s and as couples.
All well known actors, if not exactly household names, Isaacs, Birney, Plimpton and Dowd all shine in rare extensive feature film screen-time with The Goonies star Plimpton and A Handmaid’s Tale’s Dowd both giving what could well be career best turns as two mothers/wife’s battling to deal with past events in their lives and the way in which their children have been raised and as the films end game begins to be in sight the two actresses give what could’ve well been award contending performances had the likes of the Academy gotten on board with a critically lauded but barely known film such as Mass.
Some may wish for the film to have allowed for more “big” moments, the outburst like scenes that sometimes make or break similar films that live and breathe off their scripts and the way in which the words are delivered by their performers but Kranz should be commended for keeping things realistic and unshowy in a film that seems at all times at peace with itself, making for a touching and often heartbreaking experience that makes for one of 2021’s most underrated films.
Final Say –
Mass may not have a lot of bells or whistles or be spoken about in the leagues of other prestigious recent dramas but Fran Kranz’s memorable debut feature is a top notch affair that features one of 2021’s most impressively on song ensemble performances.
4 family photographs out 5