(director/writer: Guy Nattiv; cinematographer: Arnaud Potie; editors: Lee Percy, Michael Taylor; music: Dan Romer; cast: Jamie Bell (Bryon ‘Pitbull’ Widner), Danielle Macdonald (Julie Price), Daniel Henshell (Slayer), Bill Camp (Fred ‘Hammer’ Krager), Louise Krause (April), Zoe Colletti (Desiree), Kylie Rogers (Sierra), Colbi Gannett (Iggy), Mike Colter (Daryle Jenkins), Vera Farmiga (Shareen); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jaime Ray Newman, Guy Nattiv, Oren Moverman, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler, Dillon D Jordan; A24; 2018)
“It compares favorably with American History X.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is Israeli director Guy Nattiv‘s (“Magic Men”/”The Flood”) first film made in the United States. It stars the expressive British actor Jamie Bell, who plays Bryon Widner, in a powerful performance about a real-life white supremacist skinhead who, in 2006, decided to leave the racist collective he lived in and in a hurtful manner breaks with his hateful past.
The ex-neo-Nazi was the subject of a 2011 documentary, “Erasing Hate”. Skin compares favorably with American History X, a film that follows a similar theme of right-wing extremism in action. It had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018. The hate group called the Vinlanders Social Group in the Midwest is run by the father and mother figures of Fred (Bill Camp) and Shareen (Vera Farmiga). When a young recruit joins only for food and shelter, Bryon doesn’t deem that a good reason to join. When Bryon falls in love with Julie Larsen (Danielle Macdonald), a single mother with three kids, he is moved to change his shameful life. Through the help of One People’s Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bryon vows to remove his racist face and body tattoos through difficult removal procedures over the course of a few years (comparing the physical removal of the tattoos to being as difficult as changing his racist mind-set). This tattoo removal exercise seems the gist of the film, that asks us to forgive the hate-monger and applaud him for now joining the human race again. I found the story, told through flashbacks of Bryon’s past, compelling and the acting was good, but the cynic in me would have liked to know even more about him before he converted and more of the violence he did before complete acceptance of him.
REVIEWED ON 2/1/2019 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/