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Adapted from the groundbreaking 1929 novel by Nella Larsen, the upcoming Netflix film Passing is about interiority as much as it is about presentation. The movie—filmed in a stark, yet disarmingly serene black and white—follows two childhood friends named Clare (Ruth Negga) and Irene (Tessa Thompson), both mixed-race Black women who can “pass” as white, as they reunite in Manhattan, circa the Harlem Renaissance. They seem destined to continue their affectionate friendship until Irene learns Clare has decided to hide her heritage and present as a white woman. (She has also married a white man.) Irene, on the other hand, is living as a woman of color with her husband and sons in Harlem, and she finds the ease with which Clare sheds her identity to be both magnetizing and unnerving. The fact that this choice exists—and the inherent contradictions within—are what spell out the film’s central conflict as Clare buries deeper into Irene’s life and psyche.
In the capable hands of first-time director Rebecca Hall, whose family is mixed race, the film has already received rave reviews out of its early screenings at Sundance Film Festival. Writer Candice Frederick called it “a sophisticated story that still resonates nearly a century after it was first told,” while The Atlantic writer David Sims proclaimed it “a precise and self-assured work from Hall.” Below, everything we know about the film and its release on the streaming giant.
Who’s in the cast?
Besides Thompson and Negga, the cast includes André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, as well as Alexander Skarsgard as Clare’s husband.
When will Passing come out?
The film will first premiere in select theaters on October 27 before making its Netflix debut on November 10.
Is there a trailer?
In rooms resplendent with the glamour of the Roaring Twenties, Thompson and Negga reunite. “We’re all of us passing for something or other,” Thompson posits as an eerie piano crescendo mounts in the background of the two-minute trailer. Watch the full video below.
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