By Liz Lopez
Actor Fran Kranz makes his feature filmmaking debut with the drama Mass. When the film begins, it is not clear why a lady in a church is so anxious about getting the meeting room prepared for guests, nor is it clear what the meeting is about. If anyone is very tired or impatient and wants the story to be spelled out in the first few minutes, this script written and directed by Kranz may not hold their interest in the first 30 minutes or so. It may appear as if it a play, or a made for TV drama, but it is original work by the filmmaker. With enough patience, the audience learns that the guests in the meeting room are not there to discuss when the next church service is, but rather the mass shooting in a school that happened in their town in the past. This may sound like a spoiler, but first, anyone that has experienced gun violencce should know before they enter the theater and second, it is important to know that a filmmaker has approached this subject through cinema with how two couples are trying to approach and share the reality of the event that shattered lives.
Judy (Breeda Wool) is the church staff member who is preparing the areas where the meeting will be held – overly helpful to a degree. It appears as much when Kendra (Michelle N. Carter), a social worker, arrives to review the set up before the participants arrive. She receives the two couples and has them sit across a table from each other. Gail (Martha Plimpton) and Jay (Jason Isaacs), who lost their son and are meeting Richard (Reed Birney) and Linda (Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale), the parents of the student who used weapons against others on campus, killing many.
All four actors give powerful performances as each main character discusses topics they felt had not been fully considered or addressed over the years. The actors each have stand out scenes that make this film as strong as it is.
This film may not have as wide an audience as the usual summer blockbusters or the ones that have a buzz during the award season time each year. It is one that has smart dialogue to have the viewer consider many points about mass shootings and minors killing others for various reasons.
Crew: Director/ screenplay/ producer: Fran Kranz
Camera: Ryan Jackson-Healy. Editor: Yang-Hua Hu. Music: Darren Morze.
PG-13 Running time: 110 minutes
MASS opens in theaters in Austin on October 22.
Source: Bleecker Street