Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Pass

LGBT movies whether they be considered indie or mainstream have come a long way. However, I certainly can remember a time, mostly in the 90's for me at least, when the promise was there but not always the execution. With the money and attention in short supply, a lot of movies with LGBT themes were saddled with cringe worthy budgets, bad acting and a reliance on salacious winks to the audience such as way too much nudity. I bring this up only because if you've watched the trailer before reading this, you may wonder if The Pass is going to rely on the obviously nice attributes of it's two main leads. I am happy to tell you that this is not the case.

The Pass is based on a play performed at The Royal Court Theater (London's West End) in 2014 and tells the story of two soccer (or football if you prefer) players in three acts each set 10 years apart. The first act which sets the stage is a night before a match in which Jason (Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinze Kene) work out their nervous energy and talk about future prospects. Jason is a bundle of energy, bouncing off the walls and jumping from teasing that seems just cheeky at times and confrontational at others. It's soon obvious there is a lot going on between these two below the surface. Both realize that their careers are at a crossroads and most likely only one of them is going to still be on the roster for the next season. Oh, and then there is obvious sexual tension. Your never sure at first if it's reciprocated or if Jason is simply using it to get under Ade's skin. The movie then skips ahead ten years and then another ten so that we can see who made the big time and more importantly what exactly happened that first night in the hotel room.

The Pass never shies away from it's theatrical roots. There are only three settings, two main characters and two side characters. With that structure and the heavy theme of homophobia in sports, The Pass has the makings of a unrelatable disaster but it's not. Both Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene are a lot of fun although I have to say Russell Tovey dials it up a notch to almost perfection. In addition we get excellent performances from two actors I am not the least bit familiar with. Lisa McGrillis as Lyndsey, a woman inadvertently drawn into Jason's need to keep his public image "straight". She is given some fantastically witty dialogue that ends up owning the ever arrogant Jason. Then there is Nico Mirallegro as Harry, a hotel employee who is happily involved in Jason and Ade's final reckoning in the third act. With boisterous enthusiasm he plays that guy we all know. You invite him to your wedding and he gets drunk, knocks over the cake and hits on all the bridesmaids but you forgive him in the end just to have the stories to tell. I'm giving The Pass a B+. It is certainly not for everyone but takes all of the challenges of adapting a play and makes them opportunities.