Mass is not a stage play turned into a film adaptation. However, it may be the first movie to try to perfect the look and feel of the theater upon its arrival to the big screen. The story is about two sets of parents who have been brought together years after a horrible tragedy. The idea is to have them talk through what has happened in order to find some sense of closure.
Atmosphere is going to be incredibly important in this type of film. What makes it even more difficult is it is completely on the cast to get the mood across. The setting is kept to a minimum and nothing out of the ordinary is done with lighting or music.
Mass has a capable cast that is able to convey all the emotions perfectly. The movie may look bare bones, but the acting is top-notch. When the two pairs of parents first meet, there is an awkwardness that can almost be seen. As they exchange pleasantries and share stories about their children, the tension becomes almost unbearable.
It is soon revealed why the air is so heavy. Both parents lost their sons during a violent incident at school. One of the boys was the victim, the other, the perpetrator. It is a very delicate topic that Mass handles well. There is no attempt to justify what was done. The parents are left to deal with the grief and question how the boy they loved so much could cause so much pain.
This requires a powerful script from Mass. Even the most relevant and dire issues can be made unimportant in the wrong hands. Writer-director Fran Kanz is able to deftly handle the subject matter without ever trivializing or preaching. This makes what can be a difficult watch, consistently fascinating.
Mass comes to select theaters October 8
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