We take a look at The Passing as it opens in cinemas today…
When a couple crash their car somewhere in picturesque North Wales, they’re taken in by Stanley, a kindly but strange sort who lives all alone out in the middle of nowhere. With no car and no telephone, the couple are forced to make the best of bad situation. But what’s really going on? Who’s got a secret? Could it be everyone? Yes, it probably is.
If you’ve ever heard of the case of Capel Celyn, a town flooded in 1957 in order to create a reservoir in its place, then you’ve already got a bit of a headstart on understanding this strange, slow movie. The details are helpfully reiterated several times across the press release, too, but since ordinary cinemagoers aren’t usually given one, it’s questionable how much use that is and, of course, if you need something explained in order to appreciate a film, then it’s always possible that the film itself isn’t doing a good enough job of standing in its own right. What we get here is a quiet rural drama, that becomes an intense psychodrama, that finally resolves itself into an OK ghost story. It’s much better at being the first two than it is at being that last one, and while the film’s final minute is beautifully conceptualised and staged, it’s still a bit of an unsatisfying pay-off for a film that comes across like it’s got something really canny up its sleeve.
The stilted pace may also be off-putting to cinemagoers; the idea is, presumably, to emulate the crawling quality of something like The Shining, in which almost nothing happens for two hours before Jack finally decides to chop up his family. But, much as you can’t hint at a plot full of clever secrets when your actual secrets are either banal or just irrelevant, you have to earn that kind of storytelling. Yr Ymadawiad nearly earns it, but that’s not enough. It’s a shame – there’s so little around in the way of Welsh-language cinema that one suspects a plain old ghost story can get funding because at least it’s something. Still, the melancholy cinematography, the great landscapes, the odd imaginative shot, and a really fine performance by the redoubtable Mark Lewis Jones provide enough to enjoy, for the cinemagoer who bothers with this one.
The Passing opens in UK cinemas today, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!