When Ruth Negga was asked for her thoughts on someone who claims they “don’t see race,” she replied, “Are you saying that because you’re trying to reach out in a compassionate and empathetic way, which is lovely and great, or because you don’t want to talk about it or because you’re f*cking blind?” The Oscar-nominated actress, who has an Ethiopian father and Irish mother, will further explore race in Passing.
Directed by Rebecca Hall, the black-and-white Netflix movie stars Negga as Clare Kendry and Tessa Thompson as Irene Redfield, two Black women “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,” according to the official plot summary.
After a chance encounter reunites the former childhood friends one summer afternoon, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home, where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and family, and soon her larger social circle. As their lives become more deeply intertwined, Irene finds her once-steady existence upended by Clare, and Passing becomes a riveting examination of obsession, repression, and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.
Passing, which also stars Alexander Skarsgård and Bill Camp (what a great cast), premieres on Netflix on November 10 following a limited theatrical release.