Passing ★★★★

Passing is a visually stunning, poignant and tragic drama that's the directorial debut from Rebecca Hall, who also wrote the screenplay based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. It indicates enormous promise for Hall and features some significant attention to period detail, right down to the film's audio. Undisputedly though, it's the black and white photography that's the film's headlining accomplishment. Cinematographer Edu Grau shoots in the 1.33:1 ratio to give an incredible vision of the era that's stunning to observe. From its central performances to its fundamental design, it's simply a gorgeous looking movie that's also virtually free of incidental music—outside of a somewhat annoyingly invasive piano refrain from composer Devonté Hynes. Competently edited by Sabine Hoffman, the multilayered story is anchored with some subtle performances. It's very much a character study of protagonists Clare Bellew (Ruth Negga) and Reenie Redfield (Tessa Thompson), two women who have harmonised to society's standards, albeit in different ways. Nominated for six awards at the 31st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, Passing is a sumptuous-looking tale as well as a remarkable debut feature.