The Pass details three very different but connected nights over the course of 10 years, each of which explores how one simple act affects Premier League footballer Jason (Russell Tovey). You don’t have to be a fan of football to invest in The Pass – in fact, the footballing background is just the trappings of a complex look at human nature.
Night one centres on Jason and Ade (Arinze Kene) on the eve of their first big international match. They’re staying in a random hotel room and they’re trying to relax. Here they banter, throwing jokes about race and religion and hard-ons, and it’s very clear that Tovey and Kene have chemistry. It’s very easy to buy their friendship, even if some jokes are taken a bit far. But the ‘blacking-up’ of Kevin, and the subsequent ‘whiting-up’ of Ade, are just an excuse to get the teammates in bed. A bit of play fighting results in Ade getting a hard-on.
Flashforward five years and Jason has hit the big time, but he’s plagued by rumours of his sexuality, and so he enlists the help of lap dancer Lindsey (Lisa McGrillis) to squash those rumours by filming them having sex. The tension that Lindsey’s realisation that Kevin has orchestrated their entire night paves the way for a truly heartbreaking conversation in which Jason describes what it’s like to be a gay footballer in the modern world. He has to be seen as a role model to young fans, and in the footballing world there’s no such thing as a gay role model. Unfortunately, the same can be said for pretty much every walk of life, which makes this admission even more raw. It’s a glaring observation of the entertainment industry, and a heartbreaking one, too. I defy you all not to feel for Jason here, even if he comes across as a dick towards the close of this segment. Lindsey doesn’t deserve to be spoken to like that.
The final part takes us another five years into the future, and Jason is spiralling. Here he calls Ade up out of the blue and invites him to his hotel room. There’s some awkwardness between the pair – they haven’t seen each other since that fateful night; but it soon becomes apparent that Jason ignored Ade because he was scared of his own feelings. To give into them would be professional suicide, which is made all the more sickening by the fact that since he hasn’t given into them, he’s lived a lie all of his adult life. Marriage, kids, his career – none of it’s real, not really. After some harsh truths, Ade and Jason question which of the two is the most happy – Jason, the big-time footballer who is hooked on pills and alcohol, and is living in a hotel room; or Ade, who is now a plumber in a relationship with Gary. You’d be forgiven for thinking the former.
Enter Nico Mirallegro’s Harry, and it becomes apparent just how twisted Jason has become. For a frightening moment I truly believed that he would kill Harry. Harry is just another pawn in the life of somebody who believes they can do anything they want – a sickening reflection of the recent insight into the footballing world.
It’s the performances of Tovey and Kene that make The Pass – both are exceptional. This may just be the role of Tovey’s career thus far. What lets The Pass down, however, is that it’s very apparent that this is an adaption of a stage play. The limited cast and setting give it a slightly episodic quality that doesn’t quite transcend onto the screen, but the captivating performances more than make up for this. It’s well worth a watch – if only for that final, poignant parting shot. No, I’m not crying.