I think I just saw the greatest movie of 2021, and I’m screaming because general audiences are sleeping on it.
In his writing and directorial debut (wow, right?), Fran Kranz tells Vanity Fair, “That knot in my stomach, it’s just not going away. I wake up and I feel the stress as if I’m still writing, or shooting, or editing. I just feel like I’m working 24/7 on this movie.”
The simplicity of Mass is where it succeeds despite having such a heavy plot – years after a tragic act of violence, the parents of both the victim and the perpetrator meet face-to-face six years later.
The movie is anchored by career-best performances from Ann Dowd, Martha Plimpton, Jason Isaacs, and Reed Birney, who play parents of both the tragedy’s perpetrator and one of its victims.
It makes sense that Kranz’s cast are all theater veterans, because the entire movie feels almost like a play, set mostly in one room. It should be noted that Kranz is no stranger to Hollywood; he’s played small roles in films such as Donnie Darko, Training Day, Orange County, and The Village to name a few. He wanted to tackle his next venture – directing.
“People told me it wasn’t going to work. They said you have to have flashbacks and break the conversation up. ‘People won’t sit through this. Young people will never watch this movie because their attention spans are too short.’ Things like that. I dug in my heels because I believed in it because I can’t think of anything more extraordinary than sitting across the table from someone you feel hatred for or blame toward, but coming to that table to work through that.” Fran Kranz via Third Coast Review.
I went into this movie about 90% blind, and there’s no other way to experience Mass except to know the bare minimum. What you can expect is realistic dialogue, outstanding performances, and an abundance of tears from a subject matter all too relevant today.
Mass is proof that we don’t need CGI, outlandish visuals, or even set changes to make a good movie. It’s a powerful film with tour-de-force acting that I haven’t seen from an ensemble cast in a long time. Grab your tissues and prepare yourself because the impact and relevancy of coping with grief, anger, acceptance, and forgiveness will stay with you beyond the credits.