White supremacist Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell), after being raised on a doctrine of hate in a skinhead camp, has a change of heart when he finds love with a single mother (Danielle Macdonald).
Of course, putting a skinhead past behind you—especially when you’ve opted to tattoo your face with hate images—is not an easy thing. Writer-director Guy Nattiv, basing his film on Widner’s true story, does a nice job of showing that redemption sometimes comes at a high price.
Bell is great here as Widner, as is Macdonald as the woman who manages to love him even though he’s a complete asshole. The film feels like a distant cousin of the Edward Norton-starring American History X, although it doesn’t have the artistry of that movie. Still, the movie is a solid story, well-acted—and proof that Bell is a bigger talent than his resume shows.
The supporting cast includes Bill Camp as the leader of the skinhead camp, and Vera Farmiga as the leader’s nurturing yet classless and evil wife. Blink, and you’ll miss a quick appearance by Mary Stuart Masterson as Agent Jackie Marks. She acts like she’s in a different movie, but it’s fun to see her all the same.
Skin is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.