Directed by: Guy Nattiv
Written by: Guy Nattiv, Sharon Maymon
Starring: Jackson Robert Scott, Jonathan Tucker, Danielle Macdonald, Ashley Thomas, Lonnie Chavis
Skin, an Oscar-winning short film from an Israeli filmmaker named Guy Nattiv, shrouds turpitude in plain sight. You intuit something terrible will happen but are not sure when will it betide. When the evil finally emerges from the corner, it leaves you stunned with shock and despair. Given the way Skin wends, no other conclusion would have made sense. It’s sad and devoid of hope, but there is some truth to all of it.
Troy (Jackson Robert Scott) is a 10-year-old young boy living with his father, Jeffrey (Jonathan Tucker), and mother, Christa (Danielle Macdonald). Jeffrey and his group are a bunch of Neo-Nazis, and that means trouble ahead. But Skin is not interested in direct exploitation. It could have easily painted these people with shades of criminality, but it elects to show how a person can be both a kind human and a wicked being. Skin shows those greys instead of depicting only black and white.
We get gentle shots of Jeffrey cutting his son’s hair. The same love is carried over to the scene where Jeffrey hands over a gun to Troy and encourages him to shoot at a target. Furthermore, the same lens is applied when Jeffrey pulls Troy, who is sitting on a sofa attached to his moving car. These outlines are disturbing. What’s even more alarming is Jeffrey’s casual attitude here. He is a parent who says yes to all of his son’s wishes without considering the weight of responsibility or the repercussions that would follow. Christa is mature, but her decisions are taken as lightly as a feather.
Whatever be their nature, Jeffrey and Christa love Troy and vice versa. This fairy tale, however, starts shattering from the instant they set foot at a grocery store. Jeffrey notices that Troy is communicating with a stranger in the checkout line and that ruffles his feather. The main issue is that this stranger is a black man (he is Jaydee, played by Ashley Thomas). From this point on, Skin descends into violence and chaos. The glistening, shiny frames become drenched with a dark, murky palette.
Racial violence aside, Skin shows how your parenting affects the psychology of your child. The way you nurture your kid will decide whether he/she will bring a flower or a gun to the prom night. When Troy meets Jaydee, he sees a man entertaining him with a toy. The color of his skin is purely visible to Jeffrey. As Troy mostly spends time with his father, he is deprived of his mother's affection and care. All these things mold his personality and lead him to take destructive action towards the end. Troy’s actions are a by-product of his surrounding. Instead of civil discourse, he is taught to engage by adopting the language of bullets. This is precisely what he ends up inhabiting. Skin, in the end, reaffirms this old saying - As you sow, so shall you reap.