Body of a fascist (Skin movie review)

“Skin”, based on facts movie directed by Guy Nattiv, begins with a brutal scene of a fascist march through the streets of Ohio in 2005. The radical, angry group is headed by a muscular, dangerously charismatic and covered with tattoos Bryon (great Jamie Bell. The whole march ends with a dramatic, aggressive clash of skinheads with a protesting against racism and xenophobia African-American community.

That’s how we meet the main character – a young man who is totally devoted to the neo-Nazi group – the infamous Vinlanders Social Club led by Fred (Bill Camp) and his wife Shareen (Vera Farminga). The marriage specializing in finding abandoned and lost kids and making them feel in a group like in the big family that they were missing. One of the most interesting and thrilling threads of the movie focuses on the way that couple manipulates young boys by enrooting in their heart and souls the sense of loyalty and gratitude for giving them safety, love and meaning of life.

The director pictures the mechanisms of becoming a victim of dangerous ideology. Life in this group is about community and dependence. Fred and Shareen refer to rituals and traditions of Nordic tribes. They cultivate such values as honour, patriotism understood as special care for one’s race which justifies violence against the wildly understood Others.

What can be surprising, “Skin”, above all, is a love story. When he meets Julie (Danielle McDonald), his thinking starts to radically change. The protagonist notices that there is other, probably better, life outside of his exclusive community, and that his “parents” blocks his happiness, and – last but not least – the tattoos that cover his entire body (even his face) one the one hand tell his story, but on the other hand – makes his life in the outside world almost impossible.  Here the most dramatic part of Bryon’s story starts. The director makes his internal conflict not only moving but also authentic.

“Skin” is a movie about toxic relation between kids and their parents. The young man starts to understand that his father wasn’t a hero, but a oppressor and that the values that he was taught aren’t based on love, but on hate, but he also knows that if it wasn’t for a community, he would had spent his childhood on the street. That’s why it becomes almost impossible to choose between future that requires breaking the bonds and the sense of, at the same time irrational and justified, gratitude to those who took care of him when he needed it the most

Trapped between two antagonistic worlds, Bryon secretly gets married, moves to another city to protect his new family, and ultimately accepts a one-time deal with the FBI to break up a radical skinhead gang, but the past doesn’t let him go easily. He endured years of intimidation and threats and found salvation in One People’s Project movement, which pulls people out of neo-Nazi organizations. He finally underwent a tattoo removal procedure that lasted two years. He found himself in a new world and was born again. Treatment cleaned both the skin and the soul. “Skin” – above all – is a beautiful, written by life and directed by a very talented director who skilfully portraits violence in hate without theatrical exaggeration and excessive pornography of aggression – story about getting out of the dark that is possible even when one’s own face says that it simply cannot be done.