Russell Tovey is fabulous as Jason, a Premier League hero. When first we see him, he’s about to break in to the first team, given a run out in a dead Champions’ League rubber. He’s rooming with his academy team mate, Ade (Arinze Kene) and the pair of them bristle with youthful muscle, spunk, hope and ambition.
They’re in their pants and they can’t wait to play, cooped up in a Romanian hotel room. In their pants.
I’ve never seen a scene like this, in a footballers’ lair. The pair explore their past and their future: “Will you pass to me?” asks one. These guys may be practically naked, but the layers, the unspoken desires, are palpable. The room tingles. It’s very sexy, all this skin, all that testosterone, all that young muscle, all this anticipation.
The next scene shifts forward 5 years, to another plush hotel room, where Jason has brought a lap dancer back. He’s obviously a big shot now, a huge football star, and he’s about to get stung by a tabloid and this Geordie bird (Lisa McGrillis). Only the hotbed of sordid sex becomes a forum for soul-searching. The scene zings with power.
And then, fast forward another five years, and Jason is in yet another hotel room – professional footballers must measure out their life in swipe room keys.
Now he’s hurting, the knee’s gone, the pills kick in, the arrogance reeks. Ade returns and the finale is a torrent of broken dreams and frazzled loyalties, lies and deceptions, to the public and to the self.
This is super stuff, every inch a film yet with all the intensity and claustrophobic power of the best theatre. Tovey is outstanding, Kene quite stunning to watch. The dialogue is right on it, filling us in, painting pictures (who needs to see a 30-yard screamer into the top corner, when you can just imagine better?) and intuiting the life of a top footballer better than any drama I’ve ever seen.
Obviously the title The Pass has layers, too – it’s a pass as in with the instep, one that was never slotted through; it’s a sexual pass but it’s also a film about the passing of time and the passing up of opportunity, the ruthless exploitation of luck and the moment.
The Pass practically bursts the screen with power and poignancy, with sex and pent-up frustration. So, you know: Don’t pass up the chance to see it.