Passing (2021) ending explained – will Clare’s husband find out she has been “passing”?

November 8, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Ending Explained, Film Reviews, Netflix

This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film Passing (2021) and will contain spoilers.

Ready Steady Cut film critic, M.N. Miller, said Passing, “Works on many levels by showcasing the effects of intersectionality during a time of significant oppression and resiliency.” 

The end of the film Passing is a tragedy. Clare’s husband, John Bellew (Alexander Skarsgård), becomes aware that his wife (Ruth Negga) was “passing” as a “white” woman. It had finally dawned on him that his wife may be pretending to be a white woman in 1920s America after many years of marriage. He isn’t happy about it. John looks at his wife with a rage that could melt the ice on the side of the building. He begins to say, “You dirty…” (The source material had John finishing that line with a racial expletive that is left out here) and begins to lunge at Clare.

She falls backward and to her death, four stories below. Reenie (Tessa Thompson) looks out and sees Clare lying in some freshly fallen snow being melted away from blood flowing from her body. This scene is played out and framed by director Rebecca Hall, deliberately up for debate like the book. There is now a scene where you see Clare pushed by her husband. We do not see Mrs. Bellew step backward or jump out the window. What we do see is Irene place her palm on her friend’s stomach and not push, but possibly guide her away from her John.

Netflix film Passing (2021) ending explained

The result is subjective. The last scene has Irene contradicting her husband, Brian (Andre Holland), who tells the police that John pushed Clare. Weak kneed and feeling nauseous, she tells the officers that no, it was an accident. Is she feeling guilty that her encounter with John started this chain reaction? When she said it was an accident, was she referring to herself guiding her away from her violent husband? Did she push Clare as a way to prevent her from her fears? The anxiety that has taken over her thoughts — that Clare would steal her husband from her. Is it possible that she feels guilty?

What most likely happened was her fear of her racist husband injuring her. Clare instinctively took a step back, which could still be considered a crime such as manslaughter.

What did you think of the ending of the Netflix film Passing (2021)? Comment below!

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