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Passing: Release date on Netflix, cast, trailer and more for Rebecca Hall period drama

Rebecca Hall's directorial debut takes on race, identity and friendship.

Published: Monday, 8th November 2021 at 10:43 am

After a brief theatrical release, Rebecca Hall's directorial debut Passing makes its way to Netflix this week.

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The monochrome drama, based on Nella Larsen's novel of the same name, tells the story of two mixed-race childhood friends after they meet later in life – with one of them now passing as white and married to a racist husband.

British actress Hall has explained how she was drawn to the source material because of her own family history, with her maternal grandfather having passed as white despite being mixed race, claiming that the novel had given her "a context and a historical understanding for what must have happened in [her] family".

Passing received very strong reviews when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2021 towards the start of the year and has played at a number of later festivals as well, with Netflix having acquired the film shortly after its debut.

Here is everything you need to know about Passing and how to watch it now.

Passing release date on Netflix

Passing is released on Netflix worldwide on 10th November 2021. The film will be made available at 8am GMT in the UK.

The film, which is shot entirely in black-and-white, had a two-week theatrical release on 27th October before its streamer debut.

Passing cast

Thor: Ragnarok actress Tessa Thompson stars as mixed-race woman Irene Redfield, while Loving star Ruth Negga stars opposite her as her mixed-race former school friend named Clare Kendry. While Irene identifies as African-American, Clare instead “passes” as white.

Portraying the pair’s on-screen husbands are Moonlight actor André Holland as Irene’s Black husband Brian and Big Little Lies star Alexander Skarsgard as Clare’s rich and white husband, John Bellew.

The Queen’s Gambit star Bill Camp also stars as Irene’s white friend, Hugh Wentworth.

Passing plot

The film Passing is based on the novel of the same name by author Nella Larsen, which was first published in 1929.

Both the novel and the film explore the complicated relationship between Irene “Reenie” Redfield and Clare Kendry in 1920s New York City.

The pair were friends in school and both women are mixed race but lead different lives in different cultures.

Reenie is the middle-class wife of a Black doctor named Brian, while Clare has married a wealthy white man named John Bellew and “passes” as a white woman.

Ruth Negga and Alexander Skarsgård in Passing

Ruth Negga and Alexander Skarsgard in Passing

As Reenie and Clare reconnect it becomes clear to the former that Clare is hiding her African-American heritage from her racist husband.

Spending more and more time together, Reenie begins to grow suspicious of Clare’s behaviour and the emotions of jealousy, passion, resentment, and fear begin to blur.

Passing trailer

The trailer shows off the black-and-white cinematography from Eduard Grau, who is best known for his work on the films A Single Man, Suffragette and Gringo.

The footage, which was released by streaming giant Netflix earlier this year, is available in this article to watch.

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Passing is out now in UK cinemas and is released on Netflix on 10th November 2021. While you’re waiting, check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight. 

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