3.5 stars out of 5
The story begins when a young couple crashes their car in a river while on the run for some mysterious reason and are taken in by a guy named Stanley, who lives alone in a dilapidated old house. He's a bit of a strange guy, and he digs a well. That's just what he does; works on the well. Stanley's got a bit of that "creepy old reclusive caretaker" vibe that I might more strongly associate with a watchman at a cemetery or something, but as it turns out Stanley is pretty much the least disturbing thing about this whole deal. His past is more tragic than anything else, but his secrets are no less deep, either.
The Passing has an overall very strange atmosphere, but it takes a little while to really "become" something- for a long time nothing happens, but everybody is still very shifty and suspicious for no reason, and there's a meandering softness to everything that some might describe as "wishy-washy". You want it to commit to something or make some big statement so you can get into it, but it just keeps drifting around through sheer curtains and misty rains and mossy ground. This is a big Atmosphere™ movie in general; if you've seen Woodshock, I feel most comfortable comparing it to that in terms of how the imagery is more outspoken than the storytelling.
An underlying theme in this is the point when a guest begins to transition into an invader, and how much you can bend a person's hospitality before you start to outright abuse their generosity. The couple stays with Stanley for what's implied to be a long time and eventually they seem to get to thinking his place is rightfully theirs, and they aspire to take it over and live largely off the land like he does because of what I mentioned before about them being on the run from something. The reveal of what they're on the run from is truly great, by the way, a real shocker moment and wonderfully disguised by the rest of the film leading up to it. Yet when it's made clear what their secret is, a lot of things suddenly make more sense. That's how sudden twists should be.
The ending is as ambiguous as everything that came before it, with a kind of "did it really happen" edge to it that I would typically eschew but didn't mind here because it didn't feel like it lessened the importance of the events of the film. It's a kind of half-place that doesn't seem to be either wholly psychological or wholly physical, a liminal space existing in between the two. I think this is probably my favorite Welsh-language movie as of now, but I've seen so few that I'm welcome to having that opinion challenged.