Criticism of Skin, with Jamie Bell as Bryon Widner

Review of Skin, a biographical drama written and directed by Israeli Guy Nattiv with Jamie Bell as Bryon Widner, a neo-Nazi who left the movement. In theaters as of March 6, 2020.

Skin is a biographical drama directed by Guy Native and starring Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Vera Farmiga and Mike Colter, among others.

The first thing to note is that the film is quite late considering that Skin was presented in Toronto in 2018 where it won the FIPRESCI award and premiered in the United States in July 2019.

The Israelite scriptwriter and director Guy NativeBy the way, he directed a short of the same title with which he won the Oscar in 2018 in which he also addressed the issue of hatred and racism of white supremacists. It is his fourth feature film after Strangers, Mabul and Magic Men in which it allows Jamie Bell carry the weight of the plot.

Inspired by real events, the story introduces us to Bryon Widner, a man raised in a very hostile environment by two white supremacists. This makes a great hatred feel familiar and that all the usual neo-Nazi slogans and symbols have ended up covering his skin and face in the form of thick tattoos.

His life and his concept of others will take a radical turn when he meets Julie, a young mother of three girls who has denied the racist argument of this community.

Little by little, Bryon You will leave your social circle and seek new relationships, meeting people who will make you grow as a person and regret the acts committed over the years. Among them, Daryle Jenkins, an activist who fights for human rights and who tries to reintegrate people who want to leave behind a past of xenophobia and armed actions.

It will not be easy for him to reinvent himself, renounce violence and abandon a group that functions as a cult, worshiping a leader and recruiting young people with limited resources that are easily manipulated.

Just a glance at the poster and the synopsis of the film will bring us all to mind with great ease. American History X. Somehow, despite the fact that it delves into other topics from a perspective closer to the biopic (and a more luminous optics), Skin it is comparable to that film in which the redemption of a neo-Nazi was narrated. It is a similar story that plunges the knife less into the drama and puts more focus on the redemption and atonement of the guilt of the protagonist, finally turned into an FBI informant and concerned with erasing the most visible tattoos from his skin, than they become the visible reminder of your guilt and your shame.

In the case at hand, there is also an interpretation of the breeding ground in which this whole network arises: a very economically depressed region, scarcity of resources, phobia towards other creeds and social groups and in general, an appropriation of values, emblems and neo-Nazi symbols as well as an uncompromising defense of what they consider to be the values ​​of their (supposed) Nordic ancestors as well as the land they consider theirs and try to “cleanse” of all those who have a different philosophy of life, either because of their sexual identity or tendency, their faith, their ethnicity or even their political and social position.

Skin It is not an easy film, as attested by its almost two hours of duration in which we can see the entire process that the protagonist goes through, including the very painful sessions to depigment his skin … He frees in addition to being sometimes too discursive, having hair and signs what some of the most popular symbols among neo-Nazis and white supremacists mean and abounding little in aspects less gratifying than the redemption of the protagonist such as links with the Ku Kux Klan or with local drug and arms trafficking mafias.

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But undoubtedly his biggest flaw is that he cannot tie his speech to the present, when it is quite clear that it would have been the most pertinent: there are many details and subplots that remain in the pipeline.

It allows us, yes, to see Jamie Bell shine in a not easy role and, be careful, that the next project in which we will see him will be the new film by Stefano Sollima based on the Tom Clancy novel “Without Remorse”, which means that he is still at the foot of the canyon, willing to continue taking on characters as different from each other as this Bryon Widner or Bernie Taupin in Rocketman… Let’s see if the sign of having launched to stardom with Billy Elliot is finally removed. Isn’t this a movie about second chances?

Assessment

Poignant biopic about redemption, second chances and even the concept of family that serves to dismantle the modus operandi of American white supremacist gangs.

The best

The interpretation of Jamie Bell and the final section, in which he talks about the movements to curb the neo-Nazi boom and support the repentant.

Worst

It seems that there are many stories to tell: the neo-Nazi commune that functions as a sect could have given much more of itself.

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Criticism of Skin, with Jamie Bell as Bryon Widner