In Passing


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In Passing
"A masterpiece of cinematic efficiency."

“You can’t work seven days without a break,” says Elle (Kaileela Hobby), worried. Rey (Fedra Ramírez Olivares) brushes her off. Money is short. She worries about the cost of day to day things. Elle’s laid back attitude only adds to her stress. She is clearly trying not to say it, but as Hillia Aho’s camera picks out little details like the unwashed dishes in the sink, it’s clear that she feels that Elle is not pulling her weight.

Rey is a sous chef in a busy New York restaurant where other people’s absences (perhaps because they are burned out) mean that she’s constantly under pressure to add to her hours. Elle works from home, painting pet portraits, getting brightly coloured paint on her bare feet. Two Elles would starve; two Reys might very well kill each other; but can Elle and Rey get beyond their differences and make the relationship work? Is there room for love in a society where the focus is always on productivity?

A collage of images knit together with a rapid editing style which evokes Rey’s stress, In Passing gradually moves beyond impressionism into a surreal dream sequence, at last achieving a moment of stillness. The darkness of the night sky, concrete and steel and cigarette smoke give way to soft white sheets and golden light, a vulvate opening in a torn painting and the sticky allure of wet paint. A hand reaches out across a gap. Small gestures are weighted with meaning. Eyes say everything.

Short, bitter and sweet, Aho’s contribution to the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival selection is a masterpiece of cinematic efficiency and a plea for sanity in an overwhelming world.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2023
Share this with others on...
A burnt-out chef struggles to navigate her growing resentment towards her romantic partner, a fledgling painter.

Director: Hillia Aho

Writer: Hillia Aho

Starring: Kaileela Hobby, Fedra Ramírez Olivares

Year: 2023

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: US


Tribeca 2023

Search database: