Saturday, December 25, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Rebecca Hall
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland, Alexander Skarsgard, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review:
"Passing" is the feature directorial debut from actress Rebecca Hall, who has made a name for herself with solid performances in Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona", Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" and also Antonio Campos' "Christine". This feature, which she also wrote, is the adaptation of the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen, and focuses on the story of Irene and Clare, two women who grew up together, but who have since lost track of each other. They're both mixed-race, but while Irene is married to a Black doctor and lives in Harlem, Clare chooses to "pass" as white, and has married a wealthy white man from Chicago. When they casually meet once again in a hotel in New York City, they suddenly become involved in each other's lives. As Clare starts to engage more and more in Irene's social gatherings and life, she starts suspecting Clare and her husband are having an affair. As Irene tries to cut off contact with Clare, her husband Brian loops her back in, exacerbating Irene's insecurities. Clare in the meantime, as she spends additional time in Harlem, she faces the threat of exposing her racial background, something her husband clearly despises.
There's a quiet assurance to how "Passing" is directed and illustrated, that clearly demonstrates the care and attention Rebecca Hall has devoted in bringing this narrative to life. Irene's life, her ambitions, her habits, are well defined, including her relationship with her husband, and how that also trickles to how they both raise their children, both in terms of activities, but also in terms of topics they choose to expose them to. While Clare as a character remains more enigmatic, it also serves the purpose of the narrative, since Irene never truly understands what Clare's actual intentions are (neither do we as viewers). It's a film that lives from the tapestry of the relationships established between these characters, at a time where racial integration didn't exist, and where people were forced to make challenging choices in order to live and survive. The epilogue of the film is also tremendous, leaving the audience with the responsibility of figuring out what they think happened to the characters. An open ended narrative that somehow feels perfectly in tune with what the film has established. The performances from Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga are fantastic, and they get great support from Andre Holland, Alexander Skarsgard and Bill Camp. The cinematography from Eduard Grau is stunning as is the score from Devonte Hynes. A very good film worth watching and reflecting upon.