One of the most compelling movies of the year is the minimalist drama Mass, a bottle drama led primarily by its four outstanding leads (Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney). The actors portray parents from two families, reeling from a tragedy involving their sons. After prior detached conversations, they decide to convene at a mutually chosen location – a church basement – while a mediator is stationed outside.
While both parties are nervous about the meeting, Jay and Gail (Isaacs, Plimpton) are more begrudging to have met the other parents, Linda and Richard (Dowd, Birney) in person. Both families are dealing with their own loss and the details that contributed to their despair, but Jay and Gail can’t help but feel more heartbroken considering their son’s fate wasn’t ultimately his choice. Linda and Richard, devastated and seeking forgiveness, are willing to listen, but are conflicted when honouring their son by acknowledging and sympathizing with his disturbed psychosis.
Mass is a tense yet empathetic movie carried equally by amazing performances, taut editing that elevates the structure beyond its basic layout, and remarkable double duty by writer/director Fran Kranz in one of the best filmmaking debuts in recent memory (Kranz is usually seen in front of the camera in genre flicks such as The Cabin in the Woods and You Might Be The Killer). These factors contribute towards Mass’ incredible ability to disarm and grip movie goers by balancing wry remarks with heartbreaking emotion that will make your heart leap into your throat.
It goes without saying that Mass is one of the best movies of the year, but it’ll hopefully serve as a timeless influence for filmmakers looking to make their own minimalist endeavour.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie