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‘Midnight Mass’: This is Cinema

Let 'Midnight Mass' compete for the Oscars!!!!!!

By MovieBabblePublished 3 years ago 3 min read

I sat down today to write a review for The French Dispatch. Or the Last Night in Soho. Or Dune. Something new. Something in the zeitgeist. Something the SEO algorithms would have been really proud of me for talking about.

And then I thought, “Hey, remember that Netflix show that came out two months ago? The one with poor marketing that just kind of dropped and then disappeared from the public consciousness? I wanna talk about it.”

So welcome to my review of Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass.

Some Context

If you haven’t watched the show (mini-series? super long movie?), I don’t think you should read any reviews about it. In fact, I’ve seen it and I try not to read any reviews about it. Sometimes I like to sit and think about this story and wish I had been smart enough to write it myself.

But since you’re here, I’m not going to waste the chance to tell you just how astounding this film is.

Flanagan, whose mastery of deeply intimate portrayals of trauma and guilt have been increasingly well-received, has been developing this project for years (references to characters from Midnight Mass can be seen in earlier Flanagan projects like Hush and Gerald’s Game). Throughout the last half-decade or so, Flanagan has become an increasingly recognized master of the horror genre.

However, the projects he’s been gaining recognition for recently have been adaptations of other people’s work. Watching his growth as a storyteller progress through these long-form tales has been certainly rewarding! But it seems only natural for him to take that next step and develop a project of wholly original material.

I am so thankful that it was this.

Thematic Highlights

Midnight Mass is rich in theme, as has come to be expected from Flanagan’s Netflix partnerships. It tackles religiosity, cult think, and the failures of well-intentioned people. In particular, it wants to focus on those who excuse terrible things on the grounds that they might bring relief to their own loved ones. To portray in detail how well the show develops each of these themes and intertwines them would require far more words than I have here, but I will do my best to highlight some aspects of the plot and characters that I found captivating.

Midnight Mass follows a small (and largely Catholic) fishing community living on a New England island that has seen much, much better days. The population has dwindled due to a lack of resources and an oil spill several years before the beginning of the series. By the time we meet the residents of Crockett Island, their numbers are measured in the dozens.

Main character Riley, played by Zachary Gilford, returns to the island to live with his family after having gone to the mainland to make his fortune as a stockbroker. His dreams were cut short by a drunk driving accident in which he kills a young woman and spends the next several years in prison, returning home to make amends with his family. Upon arriving home, he learns that there are two newcomers to the island as well:

A new priest, replacing the island’s dearly beloved Monsignor Prewitt, and his own high school sweetheart, one Ms. Greene, the island’s new grade school teacher. The various relationships between the three of these characters will end up entirely defining the show. At the midpoint of the miniseries, in two extended monologues delivered in succession flawlessly, Riley and Ms. Greene detail each other what they truly and deeply hope the afterlife to be like.

Ms. Greene, a religious character herself, and Riley, aggressively agnostic, find peace with each other in this moment. The slow zoom utilized in this scene allows each of these actors the opportunity to deliver some of the more powerful dialogue in recent memory.

This seems like a good moment to sidetrack just a bit.


READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW ON OUR WEBSITE: https://moviebabble.com/2021/12/02/midnight-mass-this-is-cinema/

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