Review: Mass | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, October 26th, 2021  


Studio: Bleecker Street
Director: Fran Kranz

Oct 07, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Sooner or later the veil of civility had to be shredded. And Jason Isaacs’ character was the one to do it. As Jay — husband to Martha Plimpton’ Gail, both parents of the boy killed by the son of Reed Birney’s Richard and Ann Dowd’ Linda — Isaacs finally breaks a gripping first act’s tone of forced politeness in Mass, one of the best moments from one of the year’s best movies.

After both couples meet in a sparse room for this equally minimalist drama by writer-director Fran Kranz, and after a tense drawn out discussion about their sons’ fateful encounter, Isaacs finally smacks the table they are seated at and raises his voice. It’s well-earned catharsis in a film brimming with such emotional turmoil. All four actors make the formidable plot feel not only relatable, but essential. Whether it’s Plimpton’s barely-capped rage, her facial expressions radiating emotional honesty, Dowd’s galled tone of voice, or Birney and Isaacs’ barely restrained talking over one another, the entire cast will make you feel as if you’re in the room. Their compelling performances will also make you want to stay, despite the grueling subject matter.

Those actors are equipped to rise to the steep occasion thanks not only to Kranz’s nuanced script, but also his inventive directing. Easy as it would have been to allow the sparse setting to let the plot grow staid, Kranz instead frames the actors’ multitudes-containing expressions with immediacy and intimacy. His smooth lens focus shifts, to juxtapose one actor’s reaction to the other, is all the more gripping. Best of all: a slow pan across the table at which both couples are sitting, capturing the vast emotional landscape between them (as Isaacs put it in a recent interview with Under the Radar).

Thanks to the talent and commitment involved, Mass amounts to so much more than its minimalist parts.

Author rating: 8/10

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