Netflix Has Shared the First Trailer to New Film ‘Passing’ Starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga
Netflix has unveiled the first look at Rebecca Hall’s film, Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Passing is adapted from the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. The film is extra special to Hall, as she is making her directorial debut.
Passing follows two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Ruth Negga), who can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance in late 1920s New York. In the first few seconds of the trailer, which is filmed entirely in black and white, shows Negga’s character, Clare, tell Irene (Thompson), “Pardon me, I don’t mean to stare, but I think I know you.” This prompts Irene, shocked, to remember Clare. This chance encounter reunites the old friends.
As the trailer progresses, we see that Clare is living life “passing” as a wealthy white woman married to a white man, played by the talented Alexander Skarsgård. Irene asks Clare if he knows of her Black ancestry, to which she looks up at Irene, cigarette in hand, and shakes her head. In a heartbreaking scene, Irene asks him, “You dislike Negros, Mr. Bellew?” He looks at her, where he reveals, “No, no, no, not at all. He pauses and replies, “I hate them.” This racist remark leaves Irene visibly upset, but we see Mr. Bellew and his wife laughing until Clare realizes how offensive and sad this is.
PASSING gives Ruth Negga the chance to show how simply incandescent she is. Tessa Thompson and André Holland also terrific, Alexander Skarsgard playing just the worst human being ever, as usual. And, my god, that Dev Hynes piano score is gorgeous #Sundance2021 pic.twitter.com/qi38rSrxQZ— Ella Kemp (@ella_kemp) January 31, 2021
In a series of quick shots, the words “Nothing is black and white” appear. This film explores many important subjects such as Black identity, race, freedom, and jealousy, among others.
Tessa Thompson em Passing (2021) pic.twitter.com/y5PSFtMndE— Tessa Thompson Brasil (@BRTessaThompson) September 21, 2021
Thompson and Negga spoke to Vanity Fair about Nella Laren’s novella. Negga reveals that she was drawn to the project because of her interest in the idea of “passing.” She elaborates on the term, “Passing… this phenomenon that is so part of the fabric of American life was not talked about or discussed. I just felt so desperately sad about it, really. The fact that an individual would feel that they—to survive, to have a different or certain quality of life—had to pass as white.” Thompson echoes her co-star’s sentiments, revealing that Larsen’s novel “haunted” her after reading.
Passing promises to be an intense rollercoaster ride of emotions. Fans can watch the trailer above. Before the movie heads to Netflix on October 29, be sure to grab a copy of Nella Larsen’s Passing to read at select bookstores.