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Can a leopard change its spots, asks Israeli film-maker Guy Nattiv in this troublingly slick drama, based on the true story of Bryon Widner, a reformed US white supremacist who had two years of painful laser treatment to remove the racist tattoos that covered his body and face. The already anxious, clattering sound design is punctuated by the violent puff of the laser gun.
There are inklings that Jamie Bell’s Widner might not be like the other skinheads; he cares for his dog and plays family man to single mother Julie (Danielle Macdonald). It’s this new relationship that makes him think twice about knifing black kids and torching mosques as a member of the racist Vinlanders Social Club and so the film follows his attempts to extricate himself from his “family”.
Bell is magnetic in the role, and there’s real chemistry between him and Macdonald, but the film’s formal glossiness and frequent overhead shots create distance between the viewer and the hate crimes on display. The film works hard to complicate the character of Widner, but flattens the pernicious culture that formed him.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Skin review – Jamie Bell is magnetic as a reformed racist | Drama films