Passing ★★★½

In the opening shot of Passing, you see Irene (Tessa Thompson) concealed behind her hat, blocked out from society, barely peaking through. This sets the tone for the rest of the movie, but the beautiful black and white photography by cinematographer Eduard Grau takes over and works wonderfully, making us feel like we're living in a distant memory of a personal story from director Rebecca Hall - even though it's based on a 1929 novel - along with being a concealing visual representative of a world where women of color are blending into society and form a forced action of deceit that then ripples through their actions.

Ruth Negga is fantastic here as Clare, a woman living the life of a white woman, married to an abhorrently racist man and wanting to dragoon Irene into letting her into her life, in more ways than one.

I remember as a child hearing a song in school that rhythmically repeated "if you tell one lie, it leads to another, if you tell two lies, it leads to another." And even if a film like Passing doesn't exonerate that thought, it also makes the argument that the onus isn't just on the deceiter, but the racist and structural pressures of society. Passing never quite breaks into the realm of greatness it's constantly on the verge of, but it still is a unique viewing experience from a confident Hall who has a clear career in directing in front of her.

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