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  • Writer's pictureJack Aling

Passing - Review (London Film Festival 2021)

No One Is Happy, Free or Safe. 3.5 / 5

Directed by Rebecca Hall.

In 1920s New York City, a Black woman finds her world upended when her life becomes intertwined with a former childhood friend who’s passing as white.

Rebecca Hall's directorial debut, Passing is a simple and effective film that covers some substantial topics but feels aimless as it struggles to make its point heard.

Black and white, 4:3, with two notable central performances - award season must be approaching. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga are both fantastic, carefully guiding us through this poignant look at race in the 1920s. Thompson gives a layered and conflicting performance in the lead but it's Nega's charismatic soul that fuels the flames.

Shot very classically, it goes without saying that filming in black and white not only adds to the aesthetic but adds another layer to the racial themes.

Though the final act throws out some curveballs, I was left empty by Passing. The conclusion felt sudden and although I wasn't expecting everything to be tied up in a bow, it ended up feeling unresolved.

Passing will be sure to turn some heads come award season but it misses the mark to what could have been great.

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