Review: The Passing

The Passing starts off well with an ever shifting premise that leaves you thinking it is Macbeth redux and then the premise shifts again and that is somewhat engaging until it loses its nerve and in the words of Lady Macbeth “what’s done is done” and it cannot be undone.

An enigmatic loner, Stanley (a commanding performance by Mark Lewis Jones) lives in remote rural Wales untouched by modern life happily building his well by hand. His daily routine is disrupted when a young couple, Iwan (Dyfan Dwyfor) and Sara (Annes Elwy), literally crash into his life. The more time they all spend together allows time to unravel the other’s secret that leads to an explosive end.

The Passing is directed by Gareth Bryn. He manages to set a gentle pace and unsettling undertone. The sparse dialogue allows the audience room to draw their own conclusions during the first half of the film. Who is this mysterious couple and just what have they done. The main issue I have is the characters are not fully drawn aside from that of Stanley’s. Therefore it is hard to engage with them. You do need to engage with them somewhat in order to care what happens to them. Then comes the surprise twist and this sort of mechanism should be used sparingly as in The Sixth Sense The Others, The Usual Suspects – the moment of the reveal is crucial – one mustn’t peak too soon. What about two twists – doesn’t everyone love a bargain? Not really as it is too much and the grand finale twist came out of nowhere. Was I watching a family drama in the vein of The Dreamers or a thriller with supernatural overtones? For the grand finale twist to have worked it needed one of the character to be relaying the story to a third unconnected party sort of like the Woman in Black – the stage version.

The attention to the detail, the fact that all the dialogue is in Welsh and the powerhouse performance of Mark Lewis Jones lifted this film to above average. It is unsettling and well paced but just lost its nerve towards the end. That is such a shame as without the big reveal at the end I might well have loved it.

The Passing is released in cinemas on 8 April 216

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