Essentially a three-hander featuring Mark Lewis Jones, Annes Elwy and Dyfan Dwyfor, The Passing (AKA Yr Ymadawiad) is a real slow-burner that just manages to make the finale a worthwhile one for patient viewers. Just.
Elwy and Dwyfor play Sara and Iwan, two people dragged from a car accident by a hermit-like man named Stanley (played by Jones). Looking at their isolated environment as a bit of a blessing, Sara and Iwan start to consider staying longer than their recovery time, with few, if any, objections from Stanley.
It's hard to write too much about The Passing because what you get is a truly beautiful piece of cinema with very little else seeming to take up the runtime, superficially. Below the surface, however, there's plenty to keep your attention as you watch the main characters go on about their lives, interact with one another, and start to change.
The script by Ed Talfan, fully in Welsh (just to warn those few people who still insist that they don't like to "read" films with subtitles - you heathens), may be sparse when it comes to dialogue, but there's plenty said without words being spoken. Director Gareth Bryn, who has a decent background in TV already on his way to this cinematic feature debut, clearly has faith in the material, and he's helped immensely by his crew. I'm not lying when I say that I can't recall a miserable environment (in terms of both characters and bad weather) looking so gorgeous.
Elwy, Dwyfor and Jones are pretty excellent throughout. It's hard to really describe how well they do with what they're given, considering that this feels like a movie mixing the traditional with a certain unusual approach. Film is a visual medium, of course, but it's hard to sometimes fully appreciate movies that focus on that aspect when so many movies cram in great soundtrack choices and cool lines of dialogue you can repeat for many years after your first viewing. The Passing is a work of art, but it would be an empty work of art without the weight added by the small cast.
Reading this review, I really feel as if I am selling this film short. But it has to be said that many should approach this with caution. Overdo the praise here and people will watch it while wondering just what the hell I enjoyed so much about it. So I'd rather keep expectations lowered. If you can handle the sedate pacing and focus on visuals then you will find this a solid piece of work. Anyone waiting for the next reboot of Friday The 13th should look elsewhere.
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