The Jazz Age. Irene (Tessa Thompson) is surprised to bump into Clare (Ruth Negga), an old childhood friend, in downtown Manhattan. While Irene is living relatively comfortably married to a Harlem doctor (André Holland), glamorous Clare is living the high life. Her husband (Alexander Skarsgård) is a wealthy businessman, and white. He believes she is too. Passing has brought her wealth and privilege but she’s also lonely, cut off from family, friends, and her community. That’s how she comes to latch on to Irene, spending more and more time at her home, befriending her children, charming her husband. Irene can’t help thinking, what would happen if Clare’s husband discovered the truth about his wife?

Adapting Nella Larsen’s 1920s novella, actor-turned-director Rebecca Hall (who is of mixed racial parentage herself) has fashioned a crisp, piquant tale that’s not only about racial identity, but also about desire, jealousy, gender, and class. Handsomely photographed in black and white—an aesthetic choice that evokes the period immediately—the movie has a calm, polished veneer, augmented by Devonté Hynes’ jazz piano score. Yet this dreamy, literary vibe gradually curdles into something subtly insinuating and suspenseful. There’s a lot going on under the skin.

Director Icon Director
Rebecca Hall

Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Gbenga Akinnagbe
Executive Producer Michael Y. Chow, Lauren Dark, Chaz Ebert, David Gendron, Arcadiy Golubovich, Erika Hampson, Ali Jazayeri, Yvonne Huff, Kevin M. Lin, Christopher C. Liu, Oren Moverman, Dori A. Rath, Joseph Restaino, Angela Robinson, Brenda Robinson
Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi, Rebecca Hall, Margot Hand, Forest Whitaker
Screenwriter Rebecca Hall
Cinematographer Eduard Grau
Editor Sabine Hoffman
Production Design Nora Mendis
Music Devonté Hynes
Production Company Significant Productions, Picture Films, Flat Five
Contact Netflix
USA 2021 98 min. Trailer


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