Passing, Film Review

I chose to watch a movie named Passing that was released this year in 2021. It is a drama film directed by Rebecca Hall. There is some vulgar content throughout the film in reference to the Little Rock lynching, and this classifies it as a PG-13 film that has thematic material, some racial slurs, as well as smoking visualized throughout. Passing was released in theaters on October 21st for a limited time. As of November 10, 2021, the film is available for streaming on Netflix. The film stars American actress Tessa Thompson as the main character, Irene.  

Set in the 1920s in New York City, a black woman finds her life tipped over when her life oddly becomes intertwined with a former childhood friend who happens to be passing as white. Both being fair skinned women, they decided to choose different paths. Clare decided to pass for white and marry a wealthy white man to live a life of luxury and privilege, whereas Irene chose to live her life as a Black woman and marry a black man, essentially living her truth. Despite both life decisions made, the movie clearly shows almost longing for each other’s life.  

The movie gives an interesting take on showing a volatile relationship between the main characters Irene and Clare. Odie Henderson wrote an in-depth review of the film that was released on November 10, 2021. I reviewed the author’s critique on Sunday November 21, 2021. The author begins his review by sharing how he immediately was reminded of the story in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” where a colored man sold his soul to the devil. The decision eventually made impervious to consequences of crimes in varying sizes. The author explains that August Wilson’s metaphorical tangent struck him as ironic. In a former scenario, hell awaits you when you die, and in the latter scenario that is being exhibited in the film Passing, hell can be visited by the living. The author of the review describes how he had a major jolt of reality during the scene where the camera accurately depicts Irene’s uncomfortable point of view in each moment of uncertainty. Hall’s camera focuses on Irene’s point of view, moving around quickly to notice her former friend, Clare glaring at her from a distance.  

In my opinion, this film was amazing in many aspects. Displaying a story line that was set in the 1920s to present it in a black and white film to resemble the actuality of the moment that they captured. Black and white films always catch my attention since they are not as common in today’s time. This made me feel like I was present in the moment with the main characters. The scene that stood out the most to me was early in the film where Irene saw Clare’s husband for the first time. Clare’s husband described his wife to be getting darker and darker every year we have been together. This moment made me realize how easy the white community shuns the black community, even when passing.  

Passing has a lingering sound bite to begin and end many of the scenes; this caught my attention and showed a lot of significance for the type of music that was loved and listened to during that time. The ending of the film was very shocking because I did not expect it to result in the way that it did. After analyzing the situation, it all makes sense. I realized that this film took a completely different angle; many films showed the average white person’s life. I thought it was interesting to portray the black persons perspective and experiences in the same 1920s setting for the new generation to understand.  I loved the film because I think that it is it is a great depiction of a black person’s perspective and mindset that a black person had to maintain during the early 1900s.