“Imagine the most dreaded, tense, and emotionally draining interaction you could find yourself in and multiply it by 10. That is exactly what two sets of parents – Richard (Reed Birney), Linda (Ann Dowd), Jay (Jason Isaacs), and Gail (Martha Plimpton) – are facing.” The opening sentence of the film description on the Sundance Film Festival website provides one of the most direct and accurate depictions of a film. This film was exhausting, thought-provoking, emotionally engaging and tense.
The parents of a school shooter beg for forgiveness from the parents whose son was killed by the shooting. The film is impeccably written and directed by Fran Kranz. “The film is about the power of physical human connection…grief as the landscape.” Kranz continued, “the meaning of ‘mass’ is assembling of bodies…people coming together.” He added that it was not necessarily including a religious aspect but felt it should be left for audience interpretation.
Mass relies on silence and revealing of information in small bits as the story progresses with the characters dealing with the emotional aftermath of one of the most devastating events a human can experience. To reveal much more would ruin the tension and beautiful build up of the first act of the film. Part of the tension comes from the revelation of the plot; it is slow and methodical in revealing important information at just the right time. The performances were so astoundingly real and authentic. The lack of music composition, with the exception of the choir and piano playing minimally, enhanced the dark and cold aspect of the film. It is powerful.
Isaacs explained how this film is a very relevant lesson in relation to the worldwide events that are, and have been, transpiring over the past couple of years. “Hatred feels like a powerful force in the world…the story was how to let go.”
The film is a catalyst about how to get over anger. It is a message of how in humanity and forgiveness, there is hope.