SKIN Review - Powerful Character Driven Hypnotic Performances, Mesmerizing

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SKIN, from A24 and DirecTV, present the story of Bryon and Julie Widner who meet just as he is coming to the end of two decades of life in a neo-Nazi skinhead cult and decides to extract himself.

Directed and written by Guy Nattiv, SKIN stars Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Vera Farmiga, Daniel Hensall, Bill Camp, Louise Krause, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Kylie Rogers, Colbi Gannett, Mike Colter, Mary Stuart Masterson, Russell Posner, Maliq Johnson, Portia, Rob Giumarra, Walid Chaya, Steven Vacnin, and Bryon Widner.


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The film begins with a pan of Columbus, Ohio as two groups, coming in two different directions, march toward each other, the tension obvious as Police dressed in riot gear are attempting to dissuade any violence. The groups get closer and the hate rhetoric begins to fly with poison piercing darts the words. Slowly the escalation, the adrenaline pumps through the two separate crowds.

The Skinheads on one side, tattooed with badges of honor, earned over the years of dedication to the cause. The other those who refuse to give hate a place. Soon, the groups rush each other, and violence breaks out, a young African America, Lonnie, by Maliq Johnson, breaks free, running to escape he is caught by Bryon, played by Jamie Bell who cuts his face.

Bryon heads home to an empty life, sedated by heavy drugs and alcohol, frantic sex, and hate. Still passed out he wakes to find SWAT arresting him for the violence at the hate rally. As he is being questioned, Agent Jackie Marks, played by Mary Stuart Masterson, explains the deal they play to offer.

Unable to make the charges stick, Bryon is released and waiting for him is Fred "Hammer" Krager, played by Bill Camp, Bryon's de-facto father and the leader of the local neo-Nazi group.

At a pre-rally, we meet Julie Price, played by Danielle Macdonald, and her three daughters, Desiree played by Zoe Colletti, Sierra, played by Kylie Rogers and Iggy, played by Colbi Gannett, who sing as a trio and appear at Skinhead rallies.


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Today, the crowd is a bit uncontrollable and the just as Julie was pulling them from the stage Bryon stops her and begins to fumble through an awkward meeting. It was as if he saw a glimmer of hope and was pulled to it, risking failure, he goes for the hail Mary, and they exchange numbers.

Julie, we learn left her family who were dedicated Ku Klux Klan leaders and preferred estrangement to the life she had been regulated to live. She explained after he drove hours to see her, she doesn't want the cult life for her or her daughters and don't bring it here.

At every rally we also meet Daryle Jenkins, played by Mike Colter, the leader of the One People's Project, who had success with piercing the heart and consciousness of devout White Supremacist and getting them to turn. In the film, Bryon's conscience is becoming malleable and each day he becomes more agreeable to defecting and in exchange for his freedom decoding the tats, which are honor badges earned after the commission of hate crimes.

Shareen, played by Vera Farmiga, is the wife of Fred Krager and she portrays both mother and lover to these dysfunctional, life hardened, and hate shaped men who make up the cult.

SKIN is riveting, powerful, shocking and delivered with passion as the film narrows to present the story of Julie and Bryon, two lost souls looking to leave the past at all costs and create a new life out of the broken pieces of the one they have been given.


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Performance driven, Jamie Bell takes the truth of Bryon Widner's life and brings to the screen a performance that is gripping. Granted the tats add to the body props that propel him into this darkened world and he grabs a hold and wrings out each drop.

The film depicts a transformation and throughout we are seeing the process for tattoo removal. It is astonishing process, painful, almost an analogy as he suffers twice once in application, so to always remember, and removal for the injury he inflicted. The tats are erased with a laser, seared off, in a burning process. It is also portrayed.

Driven by actual events, the entire cast delivers mesmerizing character performances. The truth of this lifestyle and the path to freedom is captivating.


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It was obvious The Wider's were always in search of the "ideal" each home they move in before they defect is a normal looking, usually white, living in plain sight as opposed to the cover of darkness which cloaks the neo-Nazi's as they hunt anything different.

SKIN is a captivating, spellbinding, film delivering hypnotic character driven performance. In theaters and On-Demand July 26, 2019. See it.

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