Friday, October 22, 2021

Film: Mass

Mass (c) Bleecker Street

In cinemas

Premise: Two couples meet in a small-town church six years after a traumatic event. Both couples, Gail (Martha Plimpton) and Jay (Jason Isaacs) as well as Richard (Reed Birney) and Linda (Ann Dowd) have different agendas as they go through what happened that day and the aftermath. 

My Take: When I first heard the premise of “Mass,” the Tony Award winning play, “God of Carnage,” which was made into a woeful film by Roman Polanski, called “Carnage,” came to mind. The only real similarity is the set-up of two couples coming together to discuss the violent actions of one child against the other. “Carnage” was a black comedy in which we saw how these monstrous parents might have produced those unseen kids. But in “Mass,” the kids dominate the proceedings even though they are only there in pictures. Themes of blame and forgiveness alternate throughout the movie and the four actors are excellent. Director Fran Kranz chose to shoot the last part of the film in a wider aspect ratio, as if the world of two couples has expanded past their shared trauma, reaching an unsteady détente. For “Mass,” a drama about four damaged souls, that might be good enough. 

VIP: Martha Plimpton. All four actors are excellent with Ann Dowd getting most of the awards attention, but it’s Plimpton that impressed me more, giving the audience moments of clarity with her stares and silences.

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