Film critic Kristian Fanene Schmidt reviews Sundance 2021’s buzziest titles and the last film to get the spotlight is Passing.

Sundance Film Festival just wrapped up! It’s around that time of year when Hollywood descends upon Park City, Utah (with all its problematic aspects, to be sure!). Or at least in theory, because our arses are still stuck in a pandemic.

That’s okay since they’ve made everything available online. I am quite happy to screen movies, sans snow, from the comfort of my bed. More importantly, it’s great that the festival is the most accessible it has ever been.

Those who can’t afford to kiki in the mountains with the industry elite can finally tune in for the first time without picking up a tab for flights, accommodations or overpriced pizza that ain’t even good. With a record number of people attending the festival this year, I hope they keep this up!

And on that note, here’s a rundown of my thoughts about Passing at the Sundance Film Festival 2021.

WARNING – Potential spoilers ahead for this Passing Sundance review

Passing is a love story about two Black women in the 1920s. Irene and Clare are friends who can both pass for white, but after high school, they go their separate ways.

Clare (Ruth Negga) cuts herself off from the Black community, marrying a white man while Irene lives in Harlem with her husband (Andre Holland), only passing as white when she needs to go shopping. The two bump into each other unexpectedly in a bougie tearoom and their lives quickly become intertwined again.

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While the film is not billed as a queer tale, there is a particular attraction and energy between these two characters. I think they potentially explored a romance sometime before they went their separate ways, sacrificing the idea of being partners because of societal attitudes at the time. Either way, the film does present a deeply layered story of survival and the complexity of friendship.

Sundance can’t get enough of Tessa Thompson and her costars Andre Holland and Ruth Negga ate their roles up. They make a forceful contribution to the film’s very refined energy along with a classic soundtrack and the beautiful black and white cinematography that takes you back to another moment in time. Be sure to check it out.

Check out Deadline‘s Sundance chat with the director and cast of Passing:

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