★★★★ | The Pass
Two footballer players end up scoring with each other in Ben A. Williams feature film debut The Pass, which was recently featured at London’s BFI Film Festival.
The Pass take place in a ten-year time span which tracks the relationship between two Premiership football players. There’s always been some kind of chemistry and attraction between James (an electric and very good Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinzé Kene – Hollyoaks – also very good). We meet both of them while they’re sharing a hotel room in 2006 in Bulgaria right before one of their first big matches. They’re both very young, and they’re also both very fit, masculine and extremely sexy, and they spend the first third of the movie in their tight white underwear.
James and Ade are talking lads stuff, having a laugh about other players, and watching a video that was taken of another player having sex. The sex talk continues, and the banter goes something like ‘getting as hard as your sister sitting on my face.’ They’re playing around with each other; it’s hot, it’s erotic, it gets brutal and homophobic, plus, we find out later, it leads to more than just talk.
The Pass takes us beyond the hotel room to tell us the story of the relationship between these two men, but especially about the relationship James has with himself. He’s all man, a star footballer, with all the trappings of stardom; money, women, celebrity, and eventually a wife with two kids. But he’s also battling with his sexuality, and even though he buys whatever, and whomever, he wants when he wants it, the thing he wants most is out of his reach. And when he’s questioned about his sexuality by a woman who has been paid to videotape having sex with him, he wants to go through with it, just to prove to the world (and obviously to himself) that he’s not gay. He’s a man who is not able to accept who he is and who he really wants to be with.
The Pass is 88 minutes of purely charged up adrenaline. It’s a movie that’s full of dialogue, dialogue that goes from playful banter to sexually-charged hi-jinks, up to and including the final third scene of the movie, which involves a hotel bellboy that’s a bit over the top. But it’s not to take away from a movie that brings up a real issue – that there is not one out gay football player in the game now.
Let’s hope this film opens up the dialogue that it’s fine for a player to come out of the closet. Originally produced for the Royal Court Theatre in 2014, The Pass makes an excellent transition to the big screen. Kene brings a real toughness kindled with a bit of softness to his role, but it’s Tovey who owns the movie. He’s never been better; his James is battling with his sexuality while at the same time trying to uphold his image. Tovey is electrifying and is at the top of his game. This is one pass that you have to catch.
The Pass is out in cinemas this Friday.