Following its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival fellow film critic Emily Tannenbaum, joined me for this episode of Carolyn Talks…, to discuss Mass, a film that asks and in a sense answers the question of how do you have the most difficult conversation of your life with the people who possibly hate you the most?
Written and directed by Fran Kranz, Mass is an emotionally intense and at times heartrending film centered around four parents having the most difficult conversation of their life, as they grapple with the why and how of a devastating tragedy that strikes their families. Taking place over the course of one day, set in the conference room of a nondescript protestant in a small suburban American town where Linda (Ann Down), Gail (Martha Plimpton), and their husbands Jay (Jason Issacs) and Richard (Reed Birney) are brought together by a mediator for the couples to find some sort of understanding about the grief, anger, and confusion they’re each dealing with.
With just each other to react to and the minimum of props to provide a distraction the cast give extremely impressive performances as their characters go through the ebb and flow of the intense emotions their characters experience in a conversation that seems to go no where. But it’s in this apparent cycle that you realize that some things have no rational explanation. That there will never be satisfactory answers when the lives of children are taken in an instant. That grief is a constant when tragedy is sudden and devastating. With his direction and script Kranz brilliantly shows that life is unpredictable and humanity is fragile, and in order to cherish the memories we have to have to learn how to let go, even when we don’t want to.
Carolyn is a Freelance Film Critic, Journalist, and Podcaster – and avid live tweeter. Member of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), her published work can be found on But Why Tho, The Beat, Observer, and many other sites. As a critic, she believes her personal experiences and outlook on life, give readers and listeners a different perspective they can appreciate.