I saw the trailer for this film while browsing YouTube. The black & white aesthetic caught my eye as it is rarely used. Passing is strikingly similar to Imitation of Life (1959). It is about a light skin Black woman, Clare (Ruth Negga), who chose to masquerade as a White woman in the 1930s. As fate would have it, she reunited with her childhood friend Irene (Tessa Thompson) who could also “pass.” They share an unhealthy and questionably intimate bond. The movie is a metaphor for uncertainty.
Clare and Irene’s intentions will leave you puzzled. Irene came off as someone with mental and/or physical illness. Her perception is that of an unreliable narrator, wherein she questioned her experiences with Clare having an ulterior motive. Irene’s husband, Brian (Andre Holland) is part of the weird triangle. The three of them frequent secret interracial parties while also seeking union with the Black community. Besides being a doctor, he struggled to find a balance between his social aspirations and family life.
My viewing experience can best be described as draining. The reoccurring theme is identity. All the characters pretended to be someone else while compromising their own desires. It’s relatable to anyone with regrets. I learned to embrace who I am from this cautionary tale. The alternative can prove to be far worse, even deadl. Passing is thought provoking and a bit of a downer. I give it a 6 out of 10.