Actor Fran Kranz makes an emotionally stunning directorial debut in Bleecker Street’s Mass. Years after an unspeakable tragedy tore their lives apart, two sets of parents (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) agree to talk privately in an attempt to move forward.
Kranz opens Mass up by introducing us to Judy (Breeda Wool) and her protégé Anthony (Kagen Albright) setting up for an unknown event in the basement of a church. Before long we meet Kendra (Michelle N.Carter) the mediator of the event. Kranz purposely takes his time with his introduction to the parents. We first meet Jay (Jason Issacs) and Gail (Martha Plimpton) whose son Evan lost his life from a bullet by Hayden, son of Richard (Reed Birney) and Linda (Ann Dowd).
The emotional burden of losing a child is still heavy in Gail eyes and Plimpton delivers a career best performance before she utters a single line of dialogue. Upon meeting Richard and Linda is where the masterclass of acting in Kranz’s debut begins. The first time director allows all of his actors to have a moment and chooses to focuses on little details in the room such as flowers or refreshments in the room.
The dialogue provided by Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd throughout numerous monologues is some of the best of the years. Each character takes us on a train ride full of embarrassment, nonconformity, denial, disillusionment, resentment and anger. A mesh of feelings that goes into a capex that simply may not have a real resolution.
Given that the bulk of the film takes place in a single room and the majority of the film’s duration involves actors seated at a table, I was surprised to learn it wasn’t a play adaptation. That said I want to give viewers a heads up, Mass isn’t a fast paced film. No background music is involved during the more intense moments which only adds to the realism of the director’s message.
An acting showcase for all four actors, I’ll be highly shocked if the quadrant of talent isn’t the recipient of numerous acting nominations. While I doubt that I’ll ever revisit Mass again due to the subject matter, the performances will stick with me for years to come.
Final Grade : A -
Mass opens in theaters tonight.