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Interview: Martha Plimpton Talks about the Craftsmanship Behind ‘Mass’

Martha Plimpton has one of the most devastating lines in Mass. I won’t repeat it here, but if you know…you know. Up and down the line, actor turned filmmaker Fran Kranz cast his project brilliantly. Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, and Jason Isaacs are joined by Plimpton in one of the year’s most phenomenal ensembles. Having been an early supporter of this one, none of that surprised me. I was, however, stunned with how much it’s all lingered, especially upon a second viewing. It’s simply a work of brilliance. As you all know, I spoke to Birney here, Dowd here, and Kranz here, but we turn now to Plimpton. Not that you’d expect otherwise, but she did not disappoint.

As has been the case all week, in case you didn’t read my rave review out of the Sundance Film Festival, here is a bit of my thoughts on the movie:

The four principle characters in Mass are individuals you hope you never have to personally identify with. They’re each going through incredible grief and pain, having suffered unimaginable loss. The cost and toll on themselves has been terrible. There isn’t even necessarily a light at the end of the tunnel. And yet, they go on, because they must. The emotions of that feeling are brilliantly captured in this film, easily the best movie I’ve seen this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. What writer/director Fran Kranz, along with his cast, achieves here is nothing short of staggering. It may prove to be difficult to convince audiences to seek this one out, but if handled correctly, it’s an awards player down the line.

These are four of the best performances you’ll see in 2021. Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton never once hit a wrong note. Dowd, Isaacs, and Plimpton especially have some strong showcases in the second half. Birney stays more composed than the other three, doing some heavy lifting in his own way, but it’s no less of a remarkable turn. At the same time, this is arguably the best work from everyone in the cast. Dowd is maternal and kind, belying the boy she raised. Isaacs is all passion, needing to find answers and confessions. Then, there’s Plimpton, who enters unsure if she can forgive these people. Watching her face as she takes everything in will break your heart. Isaacs’ fury will stick with you, but so too will some of Plimpton’s final moments. Each of them leaves a mark, to be sure.

Below, you can hear my discussion with Plimpton. As you’d expect, we spoke about Mass, with a particular focus on Kranz’s filmmaking, as well as her interpretation of the role. We’ve been featuring this cast all week, so I don’t want to waste any time getting you to this conversation. Plimpton is articulate and clear in her thoughts on it all, helping to crystalize more of why this is such a brilliant work. Now that it’s in theaters, you owe it to yourself to see this film…

Bleecker Street

Here now is my interview with Mass star Martha Plimpton. Enjoy:

Mass is now in theaters!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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