Passing Movie Review

When one is part of a minority group, there are two obvious choices. The first one is to be who you are, regardless of what is being said about you. The second is to pretend to be someone else and fit in, otherwise known as passing.

Passing is the title of the new Netflix film. Based on a book written by Nella Larsen, it is set in New York City in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) were friends in high school. Both are biracial and have not seen each other for many years. Irene has embraced her identity as a woman of color while Clare is passing as Caucasian. Upon meeting Clare’s very white and very prejudiced husband John (Alexander Skarsgard), Irene is both curious and disgusted by her old pal’s life preference. For her part, Clare is drawn into Irene’s circle of mostly African-American friends (including Irene’s husband, Brian, played by Andre Holland). Unlike Clare, they have openly and proudly embraced their identities. She is forced to grapple with the self-applied mask of passing she has put on.

Written and directed by Rebecca Hall (who has been speaking to the press about her own biracial identity), this is a powerhouse of a film. Though both the book and the movie tell the story of two women who are both partially of African-American descent, I felt like understood them. I’ve often spoken on this blog about my own Jewish faith and identity. I could, if I wanted to, pass as someone of another faith or no faith at all. I’ve been asked quite a few times if I am of Irish ancestry due to my red hair.

At the end of the day, it is this decision we make that defines our lives. Do we not give a fuck and just be ourselves or do we submerge who we are to be accepted by others? It is a question that each of us must ask ourselves, knowing the outcome has to potential to have life-altering consequences.

Do I recommend it? absolutely.

Passing is available for streaming on Netflix.

P.S. I would not be surprised if Passing did well come award season.

Advertisement

Such Good Girls Book Review

1.5 million Jewish children were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Only 10% of the European Jewish children who were alive before World War II survived.

The adults who helped the children survive had to resort to desperate measures.

R.D. Rosen’s new non fiction book, Such Good Girls is about several of these children who shed their Jewish identities during the war and became Christian. After the war, they found themselves conflicted between their Jewish pasts and their Christian present. In 1991, these child survivors were brought together in New York and began to examine their pasts and understand the measures the adults took at the time to ensure the children’s survival.

I enjoyed this book. Every time I think I know everything about the Holocaust, I learn something new. What I saw in this book was the love of parents who saw the coming storm and did what they could to ensure that their children would survive. Even if that survival meant changing everything about their child and possibly giving their child up to others to raise. I can only imagine the emotional trauma of a child who has been told all of their life they are they are one thing and then they are told they are something else.

I recommend this book.

 

%d bloggers like this: