It’s easy to miss this video for at least a few reasons. The first is the Polish premiere on Christmas Eve, which would not be the happiest solution even without the pandemic crowd in references. The second is that there is no string of hot names from the Hollywood Premier League, and nothing foreshadows a stunning on-screen show. So it’s much more difficult for him to hack than high-profile images and multi-million dollar budgets. The third reason is the title – “Mass” in the original, “Redemption” in Polish – which may give the impression that we are dealing with a religious film and automatically discourage some viewers who don’t like the genre. However, it is worth – say as part of a break from watching another Oscar-winning certain – to give this picture a chance and see how much power a modest, quiet and intimate cinema can have.
The starting position is very simple. A couple meet at a round table in an Episcopal church room somewhere in America. What connects them? What do they want to achieve? We don’t know all this at first, although we feel this confrontation is of great importance to both sides. The viewer gradually has to extract new information from the conversations – at first polite, then more and more emotional and focused on what happened a few years ago. There is more tension here than in many crime stories.
Fran Kranz – the American actor whose debut Redemption is as a director and screenwriter – certainly deserves credit for the number of pitfalls and shoals he avoided while making his film. It could be an indigestible psychological drama, a tearful melodrama, or even a comic straight out of semi-documentaries. Kranz rejected the simplest fighting methods to keep the viewer on screen – there are no wonderful flashbacks here that would show us the dramatic events of years gone by (we learn about them only from the stories), or stunning cinematography or music that would forcefully squeeze tears from the eyes of the moments major drama. what’s left? A well-written script, devoid of one-dimensional characters and schematic actors, which we immediately began to believe.
Despite the staging limitations of confining four people in one room for most of the movie, we don’t get an impression of the theatrical character of the situation here. The cast is so perfectly chosen that it is difficult to distinguish or consider someone better than others among the four parents of the film – Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Anne Dodd and Red Bernie. There are no superstars and heroes in the background in this set. Everyone – and this is another advantage of the script – was given a lot of material to play and the opportunity to show not the human species, but full-size characters, experiencing many emotions during the conversation. It will depend on personal experiences, characters and sensitivity of individual viewers who will be easy to identify among these four.
Heroes of “redemption” engage in battle that – in one form or another – is not alien to the vast majority of us. Day in and day out, they deal with difficult and repetitive memories and images that cannot be erased from memory. They mourn the loss and grapple with the frequent question: Why? Despite maintaining a certain facade and dealing with their daily routine, they are basically disoriented, confused and tired. On the one hand, they do not want to live only in the difficult past, and on the other hand, they may not fully know what their present and future will look like after the events of the past. Rescue, relief, comfort, or — following the Polish title “redemption” — they seek it out in a conversation. Difficult, full of explosions, resentment and regret. Regarding an issue that cannot be completely resolved. One place to lay down your masks and get out of your daily roles. I’m convinced that most viewers will translate their dilemmas into situations from their own lives – often less extreme, but just as painful. Some may remember the conversations that brought them comfort and helped them through a difficult phase. Others may want such a meeting, or just an honest conversation about what they have been fighting quietly for so long.
I always accept with mixed feelings the election of members of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who eagerly award Academy Awards for physical transformations, which isn’t always followed by a display of acting craftsmanship and character building. I would be very happy if someone from the “Redemption” team would be appreciated by the academics, even in the form of a nomination.
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