Saturday, November 13, 2021

Acting and cinematography instead of voiceover in Rebecca Hall's "Passing"

Nella Larsen's 1929 novel "Passing" is a third-person narrative focused on Irene Redfield, a black woman in 1920s Harlem who reconnects with a childhood acquaintance, Clare Bellew, who passes as a white woman. Irene's thoughts and emotions about her experiences thread through the novel, which would make it tempting for a film-maker to use voiceover to include them. In her adaptation, though, which has just been released on Netflix, writer and director Rebecca Hall does completely without voiceover. Instead, she relies on Eduard Grau's cinematography and on Tessa Thompson's performance as Irene to get inside Irene's head: his images and her gestures and expressions tell the emotional story in this masterpiece. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 13 November 2021)


Tessa Thompson as Irene Redfield in Rebecca Hall's "Passing"


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