Skin (2018)

Director: Guy Nattiv.
Starring. Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, USA. 2h.

Redemption is the painful process etched out in Guy Nattiv’s gortty violent drama that sees a neo nazi break away from his mythical white only family in order to be a better person with the help of someone who he would normally happily attack for no reason other than the colour of his skin.

Despite the fiery plot and noble story, the film does manage to miss a trick, one that a lot of conversion from nazi group movies manage to miss. I would have assumed with this being based on a true story the aim would be to show the extremes of this violent gang and a massive redemption from beast to normal human beings, instead the main character, Bryon “Pitbull” Widner (Bell) is already fighting with his gang members and already in two minds about the cult like leadership, so was he already one foot out of the door?

Bryon displays high levels of violence and the ability to decipher between wrong and right, by quarreling with members of this gang who are rude and disrespectful, he will still go out and bash black kids for no reason but laugh as a kid and get a fist in the face?!. Early on he meets Julie (Macdonald) who’s a mother of three who is also looking to cut ties with white supremacist groups, but for now is content to let her children perform at their meager rallies. But once they team up, it’s literally them against an unforgiving world.

Bell does an amazing job at displaying a huge array of emotions from violent thug to a sensitive father in the melodrama that ends the movie as the couple distance themselves from danger. The “group” are clever and highly manipulative, they come as wolves in sheep’s clothing, all smiles and how are you doing but when they realise they are losing their “Boy” they are quick to start killing his prize pets and terrorising the young family like all the other people they hate so much, which really shows how fickle the spiral of hate can be when it comes crashing down on those who try to walk it’s path.

Throughout the acts both up and down, there is a wrap around diary of Byron’s tattoo removal, each painful session that slowly fades his many tattoos is a daily reminder of his path to freedom from hate, the painful procedures are minor to the daily challenges that he has to face while protecting his family from his own ex-friends. The real hero of the movie isn’t shown enough, but Daryle Lamont (Colter) a black activist and founder of the One People’s Project, who helps people leave supremacist groups is only shown a few times in the film and in a nostalgic montage at the very end but the struggle and determination that this one man takes on is immense and I would have really appreciated to have seen more about Daryle and his ass busting in the face of adversity in this interesting but slightly messy movie.

Skin does get the message across in the end, a terrible person can wake the fuck up and be a decent human being, but the message is that it has to be in them in the first place, and all they need is help!? Surely there’s more to this problem, but if it helps to sway anyone to help in these situations or to better themselves then it’s a winner right? It’d hard to watch at times despite a lot of violence being off screen it’s still there at every turn.

Rating 6/10

RAmerican History X (1998), French Blood (2015), Erasing Hate (2011)
L – Race Flicks
5s – Jamie Bell

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