There are movies that make you cringe even if you believe in and have faith in humanity. Skin is one of those since it shows the depths and depravity that can come from hatred, the unmitigated contempt that some people can have for others, and how quickly people can turn on each other when their beliefs are challenged. It also makes you wonder how actors can put themselves in this position, to play men and women that were so despicable as to be likened to evil incarnate bound in flesh. Jamie Bell definitely goes more than the extra mile as he portrays a white supremacist that didn’t question the life he was given when he was in need, but upon finding something else, realizes that the ‘family’ he belongs to is nothing more than a set of commands that he’s been given to follow without so much as a chirp of disobedience. Many people would likely rail against such authority, the kind that offers no freedom but what they give, but it’s been seen more than once that certain groups throughout history and even in the common era take hold of a person’s ideologies and twist them in a way that might not make any real sense to those on the outside, but are all those on the inside have to believe in.
Based on the true story of a white supremacist couple that would take in at-risk teens and those that they found on the streets in need of help this is the kind of story that makes your guts churn since thinking of it as real is even worse since no matter how dramatized it might be the realization is that this happened to someone, that human beings are capable of this kind of evil against one another. It likely doesn’t come as any real surprise since human history is riddled with atrocities that have been committed by various people and there’s no shortage of horror that has been spawned by human hands. But even Julian Roman of MovieWeb seems to be in agreement that the kind of monstrous acts seen in this movie are nothing short of cringe-worthy since their basis is something that many would instantly rail against.
Worse still is a certain part of the movie in which the main character, who was tattooed from head to toe with racist, supremacist symbols, opted to get each and every tattoo removed via laser surgery. At one point and time, and it still might be this way, this operation is extremely painful and can leave scars behind. But considering what was there in the first place the scars might have been an improvement. In some ways this story almost seems like American History X, or perhaps as though it served as the basis. In many ways though it’s even worse since as it was already mentioned the basis for this movie was a real story. The couple that started the whole thing were the type to prey upon those that had no home, no food, and no prospects other than to be grateful that someone was paying attention to them, that someone was feeding them, and that they had a place to lay their head other than the ground. That kind of desperation is far too easy to take advantage of since no matter how much pride a person has, no matter how much they don’t believe in harming others, everyone has a breaking point, and only a few could possibly resist indefinitely when the promise of warmth and food is offered so readily.
That’s the diabolical nature of this story though, weakness and the people that prey on it. For all that however Ignatiy Vishnevesky of AV Club happens to think that the movie is a bit too two-dimensional, largely because it would seem that Bell’s character is ready to rebel early on in the movie, showing that he’s not entirely into the idea of being a white supremacist as he sees what those that brought him and made him a favored son do to others. This is the hook, the crux of the story, and it seems to come too quickly for some as it means that afterwards there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for introspection since the main character is already think of letting go, of giving up what he’s been doing for years, to walk away and become someone else. There’s a point to that, as it would seem that this would be giving too much of the ending too early on in the movie, but from the trailer it would indicate that he still had plenty of hell to go through since the family had no intention of letting him leave. That’s the whole problem with gangs, once you’re in, getting out is usually impossible, unless you’re ready for the final curtain.
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