Saturday, April 9, 2022


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Fran Kranz
Starring: Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney, Breeda Wool, Kagen Albright, Michelle N. Carter
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
"Mass" is writer/director Fran Kranz's directorial debut. He has had a prolific acting career, but ventured into directorial waters with this film, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival of 2021, before embarking on a series of Fall Film Festivals, until it was officially released in October of 2021. The film follows the story of two couples who meet in a Church antechamber to discuss what has happened to their children. Jay and Gail's son was one of many who was shot and killed by Richard and Linda's son, who went on a shooting spree in a high school, six years ago. Jay and Gail are trying to understand if there were any behavioral indications, that might have suggested/indicated what eventually took place. Linda and Richard recount the story of what they consider to be the most impactful changes in their son's life, but they themselves can't understand what motivated that brutal occurrence. These two couples whose lives are permanently damaged by that occurrence, are both trying to find a semblance of peace and potential healing.
"Mass" is a film that manages to be equal parts gripping and emotionally devastating, as it tackles the aftermath of a school shooting, and what happens with families who have to essentially rebuild themselves. This group of characters meet each other in somewhat different circumstances, since while one couple is trying to find a justification for the violence that occurred, and for the void that was left in their lives, the other couple is carrying the immense burden of also losing a child, while knowing how much pain their offspring has inflicted on others. It's a powerful narrative, that has some theatrical aspects to it, and some initial artificiality to the dialogue, but one that eventually finds its momentum and basks in the great dynamics between the central characters. Unlike Lynne Ramsay's superb "We Need to Talk About Kevin", where the characters are given extra dimension, by revealing more about the parents of Kevin, their existence, challenges as well as the consequences of his actions, "Mass" omits those aspects altogether. It chooses to focus on this particular cathartic session, where one couple aims to find closure and justification for what happened, and the other somehow looks for absolution while also attempting to shine some humanity and frailties on the monstrous portrait of their own child. This underdevelopment of the characters, is possibly where the film could have benefited of a more nuanced screenplay. It's nonetheless a film that lives from its talented group of actors, where all of them get a chance to shine and bring these characters to life, even if little aside from the horrifying event is ever disclosed. Ann Dowd in particular is fantastic, as she tries to empathize with the people she is talking to, when she clearly doesn't know herself how something as horrifying as that could have happened. Her pain and her bewilderment are gut wrenching. The cinematography from Ryan Jackson-Healy is solid, as is the score from Darren Morze. A solid directorial debut and a film worth watching.