"Passing" (2021) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #165 Gem Mint 10
Director: Rebecca Hall
Writer: Rebecca Hall, Nella Larsen (novel)
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Alexander Skarsgard, Justus Davis Graham, Ethan Barrett, Ashley Ware Jenkins
Rated: PG-13 for thematic material, some racial slurs and smoking
Runtime: 1h 38m
Country: United States
Available on: Various VOD platforms
""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."
You might like this if you like: Dramas, Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Rebecca Hall, Nella Larsen, Andre Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Alexander Skarsgard, Justus Davis Graham, Ethan Barrett, Ashley Ware Jenkins
Ruth Negga (left) & Tessa Thompson (right) in 'Passing' (2021)
I did read the synopsis before watching this and was fascinated by the concept of it. I loved both Tessa Thompson and had seen Ruth Negga in one or two things, so I was definitely excited going into this one.
As someone who’s grown up as an adopted Vietnamese American, the feeling of these two worlds couldn’t have felt closer and lacking or being in touch with your culture which was something I could relate to heavily. Something I was told growing up was how ‘white’ or ‘American’ I was raised and I totally get that. They weren’t wrong. It’s just been my responsibility to work my way back to my roots ever since I was told that years ago. Even until today, it’s strange how out of touch I still am.
Andre Holland (left) & Tessa Thompson (right) in 'Passing' (2021)
So for a film to so strongly and directly tackle that issue, on top of it being an already more racist time, was fascinating and so, so the film I needed and wished I had in my youth. Sure it’s not about a Vietnamese person, but it’s something I think a lot of people of color can relate to.
Ruth Negga in 'Passing' (2021)
I loved it so much it made me want to check out the book by Nella Larsen. I did think it was a bit odd that a white woman did the screenplay and directed.. Even though I love Rebecca Hall, it just didn’t seem fitting for this story. It seemed so obvious to me to choose an African American, specifically a female, would’ve been perfect. So I’m more curious the story behind that, though there were a great number of African Americans behind the lens and in even the producing and executive roles which I appreciated seeing. Now Rebecca Hall did a terrific job I thought and found it really respectful, but I can’t speak for that community but I’d be interested in hearing others thoughts.
Absolutely gorgeous and the black and white was so refreshing. Sure there were others this year in black and white, but I think due to the story themes of this one, it actually makes more sense to do therefore feels strongly all around I think.
Tessa Thompson in 'Passing' (2021)
This is definitely one of the strongest competitors for 1st place in my list of favorite films of 2021, Tessa and Ruth are just magnificent and in the best roles I’ve seen them do yet. Hall captures it beautifully and Andre Holland added a great layer to it all.
Written by Sam Gall on Dec 21, 2021
CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0
"Passing is one of the must-see films of 2021, one that will stay in your mind well after the credits have begun to roll." - Michael Blackmon, BuzzFeed News
"Much of "Passing" could be a stage play: people talking in confined spaces, the confinement figurative as well as literal. It's a chamber drama bearing the weight of several centuries." - Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
"Ruth Negga shines in Rebecca Hall's adaptation of the Nella Larsen novel." - Soraya Nadia McDonald, The Undefeated
"Hall breathes life and light into it in a way that lends a weight of beauty and honesty to its immersion into a world of purposeful pretense." - Melanie McFarland, Salon.com
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