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In Passing

average rating is 5 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

May 16, 2023

Film Reviews
In Passing
Directed by:
Hillia Aho
Written by:
Hillia Aho
Fedra Ramirez Olivares, Kaileela Hobby

The unsustainability of everyday life and its crippling impact on mental health and relationships featured in Hillia Aho’s In Passing will be sadly familiar to many viewers – though its uplifting and hopeful message is a welcome and moving tonic.


Rey (Fedra Ramirez Olivares) and Elle (Kaileela Hobby) are a young couple struggling to make ends meet. Elle is an artist following her passion and living a more carefree existence taking painting commissions, whilst Rey is an overworked and underpaid chef whose intense schedule pays the bills. Rey’s growing resentment to her partner for what she sees as a failure to contribute is approaching a breaking point, when she begins to consider what makes the difficult times brighter.


Sensuality, warmth and reconciliation are at the heart of In Passing. This mature and contemplative short is a brilliant and layered film which captures the complex dynamics within relationships and applies a crippling pressure perfectly in tune with the anxieties of modern audiences. Stress is woven into Rey’s presence, and Hillia Aho carefully lays groundwork for the lopsided nature of the relationship in which she feels like an unmatched provider – with scenes portraying her hectic schedule, uncaring boss and even an aside to the risks service workers face as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile the film tonally shifts to a softer, lighter nature as it follows home-based freelancer Elle, who is passionate and caring but aloof to Rey’s financially-driven stress. The film portrays the growing divide realistically and in a manner that makes both parties’ positions understandable – with the external pressures both experience the film’s true antagonist.


Hillia Aho’s direction and Kaitlyn Busbee’s photography results in a radiance that exudes from the screen. Viewers will be able to sense the crispness of Elle’s canvas and the smell of the paint in the art studio thanks to the intimate camerawork. Meanwhile the shivers that Rey experiences as she stands outside her restaurant being lambasted by her boss transmit to the audience – which echo through the cold palette that follows her as her depression worsens.


Fedra Ramirez Olivares and Kaileela Hobby totally convince as Rey and Elle, with a chemistry that nails both the love they share and the tension they are troubled by. Kaileela Hobby carries a charm and genuineness that ensures that Elle’s failure to recognise her girlfriend’s anxiety is never ignorant or malicious. Meanwhile Olivares portrays a initially understated weariness that begins to crack into frustration as the film progresses – though still nails the crucial perspective-driven realisation in the film’s closing stages.


Managing to close on a heartening and enriching note is what ascends In Passing into brilliance, and is a testament to how much emotion, connection and character can be built in just ten minutes. Rey and Elle’s relatively simple story is one that moves throughout and will leave an impression – especially on the many viewers who will relate to one of the two protagonists.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, LGBTQ+
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