Loading Posts...

Passing Review – IGN

Passing is in theaters for a limited release on Oct. 27 with digital streaming on Netflix Nov. 10, 2021.

Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the same name, Passing is a period piece objectively about race that transcends that binary distinction to explore the lengths people go to secure “happiness” at all costs. It’s quite the assured directorial and screenwriting debut from Rebecca Hall, who uses the narrative construct of the novel — two mixed race friends unexpectedly reconnecting in adulthood — to quietly expose the sacrifices women make in terms of their values, morals, hearts, and minds for what society deems acceptable.

Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga play the two women at the heart of the story, friends from rural Georgia that grow up, lose touch, and then accidentally reconnect in the fancy tea room of The Drayton Hotel in New York City. Their interactions and childhood remembrances make it clear early on that both women have white and Black parents, but Negga’s Clare Bellew has the lighter complexion, which allows her to easily “pass” for white to her unabashedly wealthy, racist husband, John (Alexander Skarsgård). While Thompson’s “Reenie” Redfield uses a well-appointed hat and some specific clothing to lean into her lighter skin for the same assumption on this particular day, she stridently exists as a Black woman in her Harlem community.

Netflix Spotlight: November 2021

Expecting their stories to unfold entirely around their racial categorization choices, Hall wisely expands the boundaries of self-definition in the film to extend outwards exponentially as the women’s renewed friendship begins to unravel the carefully constructed lives they’ve both worked so hard to attain. While both exist in upper-middle class lives, the movie focuses on the perspective of Reenie’s life as the wife of a respected Black doctor, Brian (André Holland), and the mother of two growing boys. It’s in their home and world that Clare thrusts herself into, and begins to flourish within, because she doesn’t have to sustain a constant ruse.

And this is where Passing is at its most fascinating. While there’s a disquieting pall of emotional withholding that permeates the whole piece because of how much each woman is holding back in their everyday existences, it’s in their reignited friendship that their true selves bloom again. Their shared secret is the great unifier for them; a place to both share and connect without fear of judgment and they practically hum with organic chemistry that insinuates the sensual from both sides. In their quiet moments with one another, dispensed with purpose and precision throughout the film, both actresses find their moments of devastating honesty with one another, creating scenes that simmer with what’s said and unsaid.

Clare is far freer with her confessions to Reenie, but she’s stingy with the details of her day-to-day life, which keeps her a beautiful mystery in the story. Reenie’s faults and flaws are more exposed in the emotional distance she keeps from her husband and children, how she treats her Black housekeeper, and in her relentless pursuit of a “perfect” existence at any cost. The more time we see them exist in one another’s orbits, the more their life goals seem to blur, and their morally grey areas blend.

It’s both quiet and impactful, and all beautifully realized.

The emotional lives of both women are brilliantly framed by Hall and her cinematographer, Eduard Grau, utilizing a uniquely intimate aspect ratio that keeps the story small and contained. And the use of monochromatic lighting is almost magical in the way it plays with both women’s skin tones to sometimes emphasize their divisions, and at other times almost negate our perception of their ethnicity. In doing that, the film moves beyond just the binary exploration of race and delves into the rest of their complicated issues about masked sexuality, greed, control, and depression. All of it steadily builds towards a climax that is both bravely enigmatic and profoundly impactful in revealing their shared capacity for ruthless self-preservation in a world that wants to define them by just one thing.

Source link



The author didnt add any Information to his profile yet

Leave a Comment