FILM: Don’t ‘Pass’ On Russell Tovey’s Gay Football Drama [Review]


The Pass is this year’s most anticipated LGBT picture – premiering at the 30th BFI Flare Film Festival. Written by John Donnelly, adapted by Ben A. Williams, and starring Russel Tovey’s bulge – the film tells the story of two closeted footballers, who are also friends and teammates. To say much more than that would already be giving too much away; but the plot is character driven and set in only three locations – all hotel rooms – over the course of 10 years. Going to see a film that on paper could potentially be a horrifically thirsty nod towards the ‘brojob’ fantasy, one goes into the screening with apprehensions. Though I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Watching The Pass reminded me of analysing plays and novels at college and uni – which makes sense, as the picture is an adaptation of Donelly’s stage script. You might question as to whether something that was written for the stage translates well onto the screen – well the answer is yes. Donnelly’s craft was evident; intriguing characters, plot twists, and rather important – not to mention relevant – underlying messages regarding homophobia in sport.  The build up of sexual tension between two people who both want to act on their urges but are too afraid, was nostalgically recognizable of the closet lust that so many of us have experienced. Despite not much actually happening throughout the film, the depth of the characters and suspense keep us engaged from start to finish; even allowing us to forgive the occasional cringeworthy ‘masc’ dialogue.

But so much more than just the story of Jason and Ade’s relationship, The Pass addresses the modern epidemic of homophobia in football, by giving a heartbreaking insight to how difficult it still is for players today. As gay men who know how agonising it is to be in the closet, Jason’s predicament strikes a chord with all of us. The big question is, will the film encourage a change in that? We can only hope so. On the topic, Tovey has spoken out saying he hopes it’ll all change in the next few years – he think he could be right.

Alongside this, the film also touches on the theme of our fame-hungry culture, highlighting a much darker question about how far some people are willing to go to get it. Before ultimately conveying that nothing else matters if you’re not happy on the inside. Or to put into more clichéd terms; money can’t (always) buy happiness. But on a lighter note, it definitely reminded us how fun it is to get fucked up in a hotel room.

As the film builds to it’s crescendo, it flirts with the border of ‘straight’ gay sex again, but thankfully backs away just in time to remind us just how dark the closet can really be, not to mention the impact our first (and often confused) love has on us, along with the stark realisation that sometimes, life can be cruel.

Tovey shows us that he’s capable of playing multi-layered characters, while Nico Mirallegro is endearing as Ade, and Lisa McGrillis shines as a pole-dancing stripper.

Clever, engaging and raw.


Author: AnthonyGilet

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