Review: Passing

Irene (Tessa Thompson) is a mixed race woman who runs into her old friend, Clare (Ruth Negga) at a restaurant in uptown New York. While Irene lives her life, married to her black husband, Brian (Andre Holland) Clare "passes" as a white woman, and is even married to a racist (Alexander Skarsgard) who even has a disgusting nickname for her. Clare is desperate for Irene's friendship again, but Irene is torn between being offended by Clare's passing, and a longing to see her friend again.

Rebecca Hall makes her directorial debut with this film, inspired by the book as her Grandfather "passed" in his life. I haven't read the source material myself, but from all the interviews, Hall really seems passionate about it. I had tried to find a copy prior to watching this, but I couldn't. She insisted this film be shot in black and white, allowing her to cast black actresses. For once, I actually agree with contemporary black and white. It makes sense in this context. 

Thompson and Negga are both wonderful. They're both soft spoken, you can see they're holding a lot in. The play off each other well and I just wanted them to find common ground and be comfortable with each other. I wanted them to live as they are, without lies together. From my understanding, the book has much stronger homoerotic undertones, and that's something I wished the film would've went a little harder with, because I would've lived for Irene and Clare to be together.

This is a very quiet film, and because of that it can only be so strong. There's not a ton of huge plot points to move to and when we finally get to the end, even that is quiet and understated. It fits the tone. 

Passing is available on Netflix and is definitely worth your time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I couldn't do it again.." - Clare (Ruth Negga)


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