Hidden Gem: Passing (2021)

Alan Acosta, Photography Manager

In 1929, author Nella Larsen released her second novel Passing, receiving scholarly praise and criticism for its key racial elements. The title refers to a past action taken by African Americans, who were light-skin enough to racially “pass” as white.

Ninety-two years later, actress Rebecca Hall (Godzilla vs. Kong, The Night House) made her directorial debut, bringing an adaptation of the novel to life. Starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, this black-and-white drama film follows Irene Redfield, a light-skinned Black woman living in 1920s Harlem. When Irene reunites with her childhood friend Claire Bellew, who is now passing, the lives of these two women turn into a disarray of confusion and fascination.

Upon release, the film received critical acclaim for its screenplay and performances, including a place on the 2021 Top Ten Films by the African American Film Critics Association. This black-and-white film is a great hidden gem for audiences looking for a dramatic dive into the old-fashion 1920s, where racial lines are crossed, and relationships are tested.

Passing is available to watch on Netflix.

(Credit: Netflix)