October 29, 202195/1006 min
Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birne
Written by
Fran Kranz
Directed by
Fran Kranz
Run Time. 1h 51min
Release Date. October 29th, 2021
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Whenever something tragic happens, it is not uncommon to hear someone say that there is always two sides to the story. That can be true, but some stories have three to five sides, depending where you look. However, when something big happens and you are wrapped up in emotions, for you there is only one side of the story and that is yours. Writer/director Fran Kranz for his feature debut has delivered Mass, a heart-wrenching film, that is so well written from top to bottom, that even a subject this painful, it’s still a touching drama that is sure to leave its mark on you.

On a quiet day at a small church, Judy (Breeda Wool) and Anthony (Kagen Albright) are setting up a room for what looks like just another meeting that takes place in a church. The mood changes right away when Kendra (Michelle N. Carter) arrives and she starts inspecting the place for the meeting that is about to happen. Soon after everything adheres to what was agreed on, a couple arrives named Jay (Jason Isaacs) and Gail (Marth Plimpton) and they are shown to the room where they are joined by Linda (Ann Dowd) and Richard (Reed Birney). After some pleasantries and some small talk we begin to see what is happening and why they are here. This is taking place some years after a tragedy and this gathering in this church is to help these parents come to terms with what happened. What we learn through the conversation is that Jay and Gail’s son Evan was killed during a school shooting and Richard and Linda’s son Hayden was the one that puled the trigger. What follows is quite simply an acting masterpiece. Plimpton’s performance in particular is like a time bomb that you know will eventually go off. It is just not about Plimpton, as all four characters balance each other perfectly, almost making it hard to pick who  stands out. Plimpton’s character displays the five stages of grief and because of her emotional journey offers the most growth, her performance is without a doubt the stand out.

Kranz’s script tells a very effective story about trauma that feels complete. It is his cast though that takes Mass to the level it ascends to. While all of these characters walk in the room with an agenda, by the time that they leave, none of them are the same as they were when they came in. The performances are explosive, even as the movie feels reserved in so many ways, but yet so intense at the same time. This movie feels so authentic, that you feel like a fly on the wall as you watch these four people come to terms with what has happened to them. Mass is definitely a film that is bound to start conversations, not only to discuss what you just witnessed, but also the tragedies that inspired it. It is not just about that though, it is also about the power of hope, empathy, and most of all forgiveness, that feels like its viewing should be necessary and essential. This is just a perfect film and a beacon for hope, showing that no matter how far we are apart, we can always come together by understanding someone else’s story.

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