The Pass is three scenes in three hotel rooms that span one decade, following two footballers (Russell Tovey & Arinze Kene) in the aftermath of a shared moment at a young age at an away game in Bucharest. The Pass was adapted from an acclaimed play, which is obvious in the film’s style but does not limit it. The loneliness and claustrophobia of each hotel room become unbearable both for the audience and for the characters until the whole curtain is torn down and the premise of banter can’t hide it.
Director Ben A Williams has filled the screen here. Their bodies are screen-filling. Their energy is screen-filling. Their character is screen-filling. But so is Donnelly’s sub-text… which here should probably be labelled super-text. Jason and Ade bounce off each other with theatrical capriciousness, rebounding off the walls with hairpin mood swings, until they arrive at the thematic crux: a tender kiss.
But footballers don’t do that. Not if they want to be successful. Flash forward five years and Jason, now famous, has invited a woman back to his hotel room to re-assert his heterosexuality. Flash forward another five years to find Ade invited into Ade’s hotel room for a final reunion-come-confrontation.
The acting from each of the leads is excellent, hiding impossible feelings intense body language. It’s put together nicely too, conveying time’s passage easily. Its closeness and intensity mean that the few weaknesses are magnified, notably a character in act 3 whose intentions of comic relief seem jarring. But beyond that, it’s a powerful and sensitive film about a sport’s problem that needs more than rainbow laces and a billboard campaign to unravel.
The disc includes a commentary track with Director Williams, Writer John Donnelly and Producer Duncan Kenworthy. It’s is a straight laced but informative track with a lot of info from behind the scenes, about how the play was adapted for film, casting, set design, pretty much everything. Also included is a Q& A with cast and crew, recorded when the film was chosen to open the BFI Flare film festival. It does have extraneous info that has been heard in the commentary but with the addition of most of the cast, it’s interesting to hear how they prepared for their performances.
Drama | UK, 2016 | 15 | 10th April 2017 (UK) | Lionsgate Film | Dir.Ben A.Williams | Russell Tovey, Arinzé Kene, Lisa McGrillis, Nico Mirallegro