Passing: Rebecca Hall’s Impressive Feature Directing Debut, Starring Tessa Thompson and Oscar Nominee Ruth Negga

Passing is a black-and-white drama, written, produced, and directed by Rebecca Hall (better known until now as actress), who makes a splashy feature debut.

The film is based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen.

The title refers to African-Americans whose skin color is light enough to be perceived as “white,” the practice of which is referred to as passing.

The film stars Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, and Alexander Skarsgård.

World premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Passing later screened at the New York Film Fest.

It received a limited release on October 27, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on November 10.

The Premise:

Mixed-race childhood friends, Irene and Clare, reunite in adulthood and become increasingly involved with one another’s lives and insecurities.

While Irene identifies as African-American and is married to a black doctor, Clare “passes” as white and has married a prejudiced wealthy white man.

The film is deceptively simple yet quietly powerful, showing Hall’s talent in handling tough and thorny themes with impressive dexterity and confidence.

Shot in monochrome, using of 4:3 aspect ratio, was both fitting and practical given a smaller budget.

Tessa Thompson as Irene “Reenie” Redfield
Ruth Negga as Clare Bellew
André Holland as Brian Redfield
Alexander Skarsgård as John Bellew
Bill Camp as Hugh Wentworth
Gbenga Akinnagbe as Dave Freedland
Antoinette Crowe-Legacy as Felise