There is a lot that has to go right for a movie to achieve greatness: a competent director, a solid script, and good casting to name but a few. But there are some times when a movie is so zeroed in on the performances that it can seem as if nothing else really matters. Mass is one such film.
The story is almost entirely confined to one room in a small town Episcopal church, and centered around its four leads (Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, and Reed Birney), portraying two families who have agreed to sit down and meet several years after a tragic event took the lives of both of their sons. Even if you don’t recognize their names, you will probably find their faces familiar when you see them, as they’ve all appeared in countless roles over several decades, though few of those have required such gut-wrenching performances from them. They all prove themselves to be more than up to the task.
This is not an easy film to watch, given the tough subject matter, but the performances of these four will keep you glued to the screen as they reveal the exact nature of what transpired along with their own long-simmering emotions about it in an effort to work toward some sort of catharsis. Equally busy actor Fran Kranz makes his writing and directing debut here and shows himself to be just as adept behind the camera as he is in front of it, getting some beautiful shots of the area around the church and expertly framing and pacing the action inside. His script smartly handles several thorny issues even if the ending feels a tad rushed. There is agony and grief shot through every frame of this movie, but there is hope here too. A true masterclass in acting that will leave itself permanently etched into your soul. ★★★★★
Rated PG-13 for thematic content and brief strong language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor