‘Passing’ Trailer: Netflix Movie Starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga Tells a Profound Story

Passing, starring Marvel actor Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga is a story of two friends with different lives in the New York City of the 1920s and 30s. Netflix, which acquired the movie at the Sundance Film Festival this year, debuted the trailer of the movie today. 

Based on Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name, the movie explores several themes of race and sexuality through the lens of two women.

Tessa Thompson, in a green dress, at the season 3 premiere of HBO series 'Westworld' in 2020.
Tessa Thompson | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

‘Passing’ is set during the Harlem Renaissance

Tessa Thompson’s Irene Redfield is a mixed-race woman who identifies as Black. She lives in New York City with her family. Clare Kendry, played by Ruth Negga, is also a mixed-race woman who can “pass” as white. Clare and Irene are old friends who reunite in the city at the peak of the Harlem Renaissance.

As Irene and Clare toe a complicated line from two different perspectives, their lives, and insecurities get intertwined. In a clip from the trailer, Clare asks Irene if she ever wanted to “pass.” 

“No why should I,” Irene says. “I have everything I ever wanted.”

The movie promises nothing is simply black and white

Irene realizes Clare’s situation is more complicated when she meets her white husband who is, clearly, a racist. Irene is torn between her life, which she thinks she wants, and Clare’s, which she doesn’t agree with. 

As her previously peaceful life comes apart after Clare’s arrival, Irene tries to come to terms with her own truth. The movie looks at Irene and Clare’s relationship — their conflicts and companionship. 

Shot in black and white the movie tells its audiences that nothing is as simple as it looks. 

The trailer ends with Irene’s words, “All of us are passing for something or the other, aren’t we?”

‘Passing’ is Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut

Looks like there is more than one Marvel connection here. Rebecca Hall, who played the role of a scientist in Iron Man 3 makes her debut as a director with Passing.

The Vicky, Christina, Barcelona actor made her debut as an actor in 2006. A Golden Globe-nominated actor, Hall appeared in several movies like Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, Ben Affleck’s drama The Town, and the 2019 film Godzilla vs Kong

Hall wrote the movie after reflecting upon her own family’s history. Apart from being the writer and director, she is also a producer of the movie.

Passing also boasts of an Academy Award-nominated supporting cast in André Holland, Bill Camp, and Alexander Skarsgård. Along with Hall, Nina Yang, Forest Whitaker and Margot Hand have produced the movie. 

Passing opened to critical praise at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2021. From there, Netlfix purchased its distribution rights in a $15 million deal. In a bidding war, the streaming service had to outbid five bidders to win. The movie will screen at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 3 before heading to a limited theatrical release on Oct. 27. 

It will finally debut on Netflix on Nov. 10.

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