“Passing” Sundance 2021 Review

“You’d think they’d be satisfied being white”
“Who’s satisfied being anything?”

I think one of the most interesting parts of this film is how Irene is constantly avoiding direct eye contact, in a sort of fear of those in public seeing her true skin color. As Hugh says, she could pass if she wants to. And she replies, maybe I do.

Other than the obviously beautiful black and white cinematography, which is absolutely necessary for a story of this nature, the sound is incredible. Every sound is intentional and can sometimes be deafening.I mention how the black and white cinematography is necessary because that’s how people are viewing the world in that time. Are people black, or white? And it lends a hand with the lighting to alter the complexion of the actors.

And not just the cinematography but the performances (Tessa, Ruth, Andre, Alexander) are incredible. All of the technical aspects really. Cinematography, sound design, the score, production design, costuming, etc. It all comes together and shines through the screen!

And another thing is how much Irene likes to ignore the terrible things that happen in the world. With the collapsing of a man on the sidewalks of New York, the only thing she wants to do is get far far away. And later the talk of the lynching of the man from Little Rock. Because she can pass, it’s a bit easy for her character to ignore tragedy and issues of race. But for her darker skinned family, it is everything to them. As Andre Holland’s character says, they (white folks) hate us (black folks).

I’m unfamiliar with the source material, and as a white man, I can not relate. But the actors, the scripting, the directing, all lend a hand to make you feel what they do. I liked this quite a bit. Make your way to see this!

My Rating: 3/5

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