Movie Review: Passing


Tessa Thompson, the main character of the new Netflix release Passing.

Jihyun Lee, Reporter

Set in New York City in the 1920s, this black and white film displays the life of a black woman whose life is changed when she discovers that her friend is passing as a white woman. With actors Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga starring as the main leads, the movie is a surreal experience that satiates both the necessary visuals and storyline needed to captivate an audience.

Irene Redfield, the main character, unexpectedly encounters her high school friend, Clare Kendry, at a tea house. At first glance, Irene was unable to recognize her, but once Clare took the initiative to introduce herself, she realized in horror that the woman she had previously presumed was white was actually her black friend from years past. Clare had made a living for herself as a white woman with a white husband, her spouse blissfully unaware of his wife’s secret. This fated meeting sparks an obsession regarding one another’s’ life, and both Clare and Irene start to shatter the lives they had built up for themselves.

“We’re all passing for something or other, aren’t we?” This movie forces the audience to realize that not everything is what it seems, and the underlying themes of the film are both mind-opening and thought provoking. Actress Tessa Thompson brings her character to life in the way Irene Redfield was meant to be played. The cast was well chosen; each role was perfectly matched with an actor that could fulfill every aspect of their given character.

Passing is a film that juxtaposes two lives that break one another’s rules. The cinematography, visual components, and acting of each personality in the movie makes it a realistic look into the life of a black woman passing as white, and how it affects her black friend living life as is. I give this film five out five shields, as everything featured in this new release perfectly melds together to form the masterpiece that is Passing.