The trailer for Rebecca Hall’s Passing is all done in black and white with calming music floating through the background and what looks to be a reuniting of friends that all appears just — so. It focuses on contrast, a life-long bond, and the choices we make, or that make us. The movie is based upon Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name, Passing, and has an all-star cast.
Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, and Alexander Skarsgård star in the film, with Thompson’s Irene and Negga’s Clare having been childhood friends who meet up in a chance encounter years down the road.
The synopsis for the movie is as follows.
Adapted from the celebrated 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen, PASSING tells the story of two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga), who can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance in late 1920s New York. After a chance encounter reunites the former childhood friends one summer afternoon, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home, where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and family, and soon her larger social circle as well. As their lives become more deeply intertwined, Irene finds her once-steady existence upended by Clare, and PASSING becomes a riveting examination of obsession, repression and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.
While the trailer appears to show, at first, nothing more than two old friends catching up, it’s clear soon after that a lot more is at play. It offers a descent into the unending questioning of yourself; if you’ve been living your entire life to fit a mold, and suddenly that mold is broken.
Clare and Irene make choices that led to the separation of their friendship and a break within themselves. As Clare spends more time with Irene, it’s clear that she’s missing a life that could have been, or should have been, although her life seems “picture perfect.” The same is clear with Irene, who embraces herself but never wholly, and as Clare becomes a constant in her life, she seems to be dealing with a lot more beneath the surface.
Passing will be available on Netflix on November 10th.