Mass (2021) - 8/10
Two couples meet in a church. A small function room to be precise. They’re there to talk through something. Something troubling. Something that’s awkward before we even meet them. We get hints, all subtle. Everything is careful and cautious. Jay (Jason Issacs) and Gail (Martha Plimpton, who I’ve not seen since Goonies!) arrive first. Gail is anxious. I’m anxious. The tension is thick and filled with a foreboding anticipation. As Linda (Ann Dowd, less terrifying than in Handmaids Tale) and Richard (Reed Birney) arrive everyone sits around a table and this is where we stay. Four people, two couples, but four individuals, in a room. Trying to be pleasant to start, trying to make sense of what’s put them in this room. The question you’ll be asking is why are they there? What are they looking to talk about or resolve? Well I’m not going to tell you. The entire purpose of this film is to slowly immerse you in the events that have brought these people together. There’s immense weight to this and it’s not easy to watch, but it’s gripping. Largely due to everyone being amazing. It does have a dramatic pulse, but it’s easy to believe that they’re really dealing with the situation, doing their best to be positive and constructive with the pain. There’s a massive issue at its heart and it’s pivotal, but this is a study of the aftermath. You can make your own call on how successful it is, but there’s an aspect ratio shift that widens the screen and perhaps indicates an opening of the participants minds. It’s incredibly disarming. Oddly gripping. A brave film that thankfully is made with a truth and honesty that’s laid bare. No fancy edits, no score, nothing but what’s needed to service the story. I’m sure it could be divisive, but for me everyone brings their a-game. An impressive directorial debut from Fran Kranz.