Fran Kranz’s critically acclaimed film Mass comes to the UK

Released today, the Sky Original film ‘Mass’ tells the story of Jay and Gail Perry, parents grieving the death of their son, a victim of a school shooting. Six years after the tragedy, they agree to meet the parents of the perpetrator.

The two sets of parents (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) agree to talk privately in an attempt to move forward and repair harm caused. Fran Kranz, in his writing and directing debut, thoughtfully examines a journey of grief, anger and acceptance experienced during the restorative meeting.

Although this dramatic representation of restorative justice will not fit every practitioner’s expectation of the process, this film is incredibly powerful and at times, very moving. Although not shown in detail, there were good nods to preparation work that had taken place prior to the meeting. This was most obvious in the finer details of the film, particularly the care taken over checking the meeting location and allocated room and in little details such as making sure tissues, coffee and snacks were available.

The topic was emotionally challenging and the writer acknowledged the high media profile such a case would likely bring. Fran Kranz captured the issues we are all aware of within the criminal justice system, particularly how it is not set up to address the needs of the victims. This is reflected throughout the film where we see emotionally charged discussions between the two sets of parents. It would have been easy to build unnecessary drama but the emotions demonstrated by the participants were relative to the level of harm. 

Also captured within the film was a powerful presence of the ripple of harm and how both families had been affected. In one heart wrenching statement the harmer’s father says, ‘the state mourned 10 people, but we mourn 11.’ This is indicative of how families are left feeling when their loved one is responsible for causing harm. They still mourn, even though they, and others, may not feel they have the right. 

Fran Kranz has shown the power of restorative meetings. The meeting does not conform to the expected normal but did raise questions as to whether they need to subscribe to the narrow structure that most of us know. As practitioners, we are there to facilitate communication between parties but this film is indicative of how powerful it can be when participants have the capacity to facilitate their own restorative communication with no intervention. 

The film is well written, superbly acted and whilst we could criticise some aspects of the restorative process overall, it portrays a positive representation of restorative justice.

Mass is now available on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW via the Sky Cinema Membership.