Run time: 98 mins
Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella, Rebecca Hall’s exhilarating debut as a writer-director is about a reunion between two black women during the Jazz Age.
1920s New York. Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) a biracial woman, wanders into establishments that would be off-limits to her if she couldn’t pass as white. On one of those undercover escapades, she runs into a friend from her youth, Clare (Ruth Negga), now a blonde living full time as a white wife
Married to a white man with no clue of her divided identity, Clare claims to find comfort in her lifestyle. But after reconnecting with Irene, a burgeoning desire to return to Black society sets in. Soon she becomes a frequent guest at Irene’s home and befriends her husband Brian (André Holland). With every evening together, a doomed romantic triangle grows in deceitful territory.
Hall’s adoration for the novel radiates throughout the film. Shot in black and white and in the academy ratio, Passing is a promising debut and an admirable effort for a novel that was always going to be treacherous to translate. (Jack Whiting)