The Pass (2016)

‘The Pass’ (2016) keeps its grip from stage to film



Retaining its stage heritage, The Pass takes place in 3 hotel rooms at 5 year intervals. On the eve of a Champions League game, 2 young footballer teammates share a gay encounter that shapes their subsequent careers.

Five years later, Jason (Russell Tovey) is an EPL star going through a divorce and uses a table dancer to disprove gay rumors. In another 5 years, Jason is without a club and invites his old teammate Ade (Arinzé Kene) to his hotel room for a reunion. Still passing as straight, perhaps even Jason doesn’t know why he has sought out Ade after a 10-year silence.

The Pass originated in 2014 on the London stage, written by young playwright John Donnelly. Donnelly is not gay but is a big football fan, and he was interested in the aspects of homosexuality in football. He wrote the play with Russell Tovey in mind, as Tovey is a gay actor who got quite buff and became successful at garnering both straight and gay roles, i.e., he easily passes as straight.

Tovey had not even been to an EPL game until this role came along, but he delivers a powerful performance. He convincingly portrays a young footballer trying to make it, as well as an aging one whose fame is about to expire. Just as convincingly, he plays a man who has sold his soul to the devil, but is not sure if it was worth it.

Arinzé Kene (who is an up and coming Black playwright) puts in an equally gripping performance as teammate Ade, who is now a plumber living an openly gay lifestyle. He is an unlucky footballer who didn’t play well in a big game, who didn’t get the pass from Jason that would have allowed him to score in the Champions League. Or was it just a matter of luck? Either way, Ade may be the luckier man.

Because the film takes place entirely within hotel rooms, there is no soccer, not even on the room telly. That absence brought its Rating down a bit, but it makes for an interesting comparison with the 2018 gay footballer film, Mario. Because even though there are no football scenes in The Pass, you never forget the film is about footballers.

A warning about this film is that it has a fair share of men’s bare buttocks and briefs, and Russell Tovey plays most of the film bare-chested.

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6