Sport, I never really got into it, partially because I was never good at any of the games, and mostly because of the attitude of the others involved. Going to university and hearing about all the strange initiation rituals that usually involve a disgusting amount of alcohol or questionable sexual acts, there is an element of the homoerotic about sport and sports teams in general. However, there is an atmosphere of homophobia and bigotry around sport that prevents athletes from feeling free in their sexuality. The Pass is perhaps an important film for the world of sport as it explores the pressures faced by players in what is considered a very masculine world.
Based on a play by John Donnelly (who adapted his stage play to the screen), the film follows Jason (Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinze Kene) who having been at a football academy all their lives nd are on their way to becoming key staples in a premier league team. However, an unexpected moment of passion between the two friends in their Romanian hotel room sends shockwaves out that still affect the pair for the next ten years.
The film is clearly adapted from a play with its minimal cast of 4, and minimal setting of 3 hotel rooms, though this does not affect the power or enjoyment of the film. The single rooms that actors occupy have a similar effect to the jury room in Twelve Angry Men; there is no distraction from the drama that is unfolding in front of the audience. Russell Tovey, who himself is openly gay, is absolutely fantastic as a man struggling with his sexual identity and his identity as a sports star. There is clear emotional turmoil within the man, and even though he never says a word of what he is feeling, we all know what he is thinking. The final act, which happens ten years after the incident in Romania, is one of the most uncomfortable and engaging pieces of drama you will see all year. Tovey is backed up by his incredible co-star Arinze Kene as Ade, who provides an excellent foil to Jason’s unwinding footballer, struggling with sexuality, age and injury. While not as showy as Tovey’s part he does have some very powerful moments and his feelings toward his friend, teammate and one-time lover are plain to see.
Tovey, Kene and Ben A Williams, who is the film’s director, have made something so important for LGBT+ rights. It engages not only with the social pressures put on those who are gay, to make them feel insecure in their identity, but it also explores the damaging behaviour of those who are unable to accept themselves, all within what has been considered an incredibly masculine world of sport.