Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Ruth Negga

QuickView: Passing (2021)

Poster for Passing

“We’re all passing for something or other, aren’t we?”

Irene

Adapted from a novella by Nella Larsen, Passing is a simple story evocatively elevated by through nuanced parallels and skilful use of cinematic language belying the fact that this is actress Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut. The overt theme is that of racial identity and the ability for lighter-skinned coloured people to “pass” for white, but Passing is also about identity more generally and the way in which it affects our social interactions and contentment. The primary purpose of shooting in black and white is its alteration of how we perceive skin tone, but its corollary effect fits Hall’s description of the film itself “passing” as being from another era, brimming with the style of 1930s and noir cinema including the now-rare Academy ratio, but maintaining its own identity through anachronistic use of anamorphic lenses that provide a wider field of view and pleasing oval bokeh. The best use of the extra frame height is in making the Harlem townhouses loom over figures on the street. Passing‘s reserved and delicate approach (it would meet the era’s Hays Code) dulls its emotional impact, resulting in an exploration of race that is more quietly thoughtful than deeply moving.

8/10

QuickView: Ad Astra (2019)

Ad Astra poster

“I do what I do because of my dad. He was a hero. He gave his life for the pursuit of knowledge. Because up there is where our story is going to be told.”

Roy McBride

Ad Astra (literally “to the stars”) is the kind of slow and thoughtful science fiction, grounded in reality and exploring themes of humanity, that takes time to percolate after the credits roll. It lies somewhere between Moon, with a gradually emerging mystery, and Gravity, with most of its peril coming from the very real dangers of space. Despite its scale, spanning the solar system, Ad Astra is a supremely personal story and Pitt acts largely with his eyes, his focused steady gaze as the unflappable astronaut gradually giving way to doubt. He is driven to discover what became of his father’s pioneering mission to Neptune and we see in both men how heroic determination leads to an unscientific need to be right, but it is in shedding those ideas of cold masculinity and accepting the fragility of his isolation that Roy emerges a far stronger figure than his father.

8/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2022 Priyan Meewella

Up ↑