Passing (2021) Netflix Review

Director: Rebecca Hall

Writers: Rebecca Hall, Nella Larsen

Stars: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland

RATING: 4 Stars

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“Passing” follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities. – From IMDB

Wow. I didn’t know what I was expecting to get out of this film, but I sure enjoyed that a whole lot more than I was expecting.

Both Ruth Negga and Tessa Thomson give phenomenal performances here, both are utterly captivating to watch and their chemistry on screen is excellent. Thomson nudges ahead just a little bringing her role to life magnificently. Showing such emotion and strength, I was just blown away by her, there were so many small moments where she portrayed so much with just a subtle change of her posture, or a small facial expression. Fantastic!

The whole thing is shot beautifully as well. The use of black and white imagery added to the melancholy feeling of the whole film. On that note, this isn’t a film that will fill you with cozy warm feels, or leave you with a happy, fuzzy feeling. This film tackles tough subjects, and has some very intense subject matter. It carries a lot of weight in it’s relatively short runtime, and I think for the most part it pulls it off pretty well.

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The film is also surprisingly engrossing, considering that not a lot really happens. It is implied that things are happening off screen, behind the scenes, and it is that plus Irene’s growing sense of unease, that keeps the audience engaged. It builds a faint feeling of unsettled-ness that is just enough to keep you interested. I would maybe have liked there to be more plot to tie things together, to explain how and why the relationships between characters change and grow like they do, as it is, some parts felt a little sporadic, or convenient.

If like me, you hadn’t read the book before watching this, then I imagine that ending took you a little by surprise. I do feel the film wraps up and ends rather abruptly. There is a lot of build up and then it’s all over very fast. That is my one big criticism of the whole thing, an extra 10-20 minutes at the end to gibe these characters the endings they deserved would have been great.

But a nice surprise overall. It didn’t go in the direction I thought it would and I enjoyed it a whole lot.

‘Passing’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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