The Pass (2016)
Director: Ben A. Williams
Writers: John Donnelly
Duration: 1h 28 min
Stars: Russell Tovey, Arinze Kene, Lisa McGrillis, Nico Mirallegro, Rory J. Saper
Russell Tovey gives a knockout performance as a closeted soccer player in this absorbing screen adaptation of John Donnelly’s play.
“The Pass” has the distinction of being the first British film to devote itself entirely to the subject of homosexuality in Premiere League Football. It’s a subject crying out to be tackled, (no pun intended), but this depressingly one note treatment isn’t the way to do it. It’s based on a play, first performed at the Royal Court a couple of years back, and it shows. Divided into 3 short acts over a ten year period, it’s the story of Jason, a deeply closeted footballer who tries to hide his homosexuality by marrying, having children and, when the rumors get too much, having a sleazy sex- tape made with a dancer, all the while pinning for Ade, his black footballer buddy who had the courage to pack it in and come out of the closet.
There are moments when the film actually seems to be going somewhere and to be fair to writer John Donnelly it does attempt to show the hypocrisy of what it’s like to be gay in the most macho of sports and then be forced to deny it but it’s a nasty and unpleasant piece with a central character you can never empathize with. Jason is just the kind of prick you would cross the street to avoid. All credit to Russell Tovey for playing the part so brilliantly but a little more sympathy on the part of the writer could have gone a long way.
As the woman he hires for his sex tape Lisa McGrillis is also excellent and there is a nice cameo from Nico Miralegro as an over eager hotel bellboy. Sadly Arinze Kene as his would-be lover and the only nice character on screen, isn’t up to the job; his performance like the film itself feels well below par. This might be how things are but it doesn’t make for an entertaining, or even enlightening, evening at the cinema.
Interview with Russell Tovey: