SUNDANCE 2021! Caroline Cao Reviews “Passing” With Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson!By Caroline Cao | February 2, 2021 | Entertainment
Geek Gal Caroline Cao is having fun at Sundance (at home on the sofa, sometimes from the bed!). Here is her review of the new film Passing.
When Ruth Negga first appears onscreen, her inquisitive piercing stare poses an initial threat across the pristine upper-crust dining room. This alerts Clare (Tessa Thompson) to leave since she is a Black woman passing as white in the 1920s and getting caught could cause a scene. But as the woman, Irene, approaches, Clare learns it’s a familiar face and old friend, who also happens to be another Black woman passing as white.
Their reunion, while initially amiable, simmers with tension as Irene inserts herself into Clare’s nightlife in Harlem. Clare displays insecurity and envy of Irene’s privilege while remaining wary of how precarious and conditional Irene’s situation is. Irene’s rich racist-spewing white husband has no idea and Clare has to contend with her own fair-skinned privilege as well, especially as her husband (André Holland) warns her darker-skinned sons about the realities of lynching. Without giving much away for those who haven’t read the novella it’s adapted from, the drama will slow-burn its way to a tragic conclusion.
An exquisite directorial debut by actress Rebecca Hall with shimmering cinematography by Eduard Grau, this adaptation of Nella Larsen‘s 1929 novella offers a striking monochrome portrait about living with the precarious questions about passing as white in social spaces.
photo credit: Picture Films