Movie review: Skin by Hanro Smitsman


1979. The Netherlands. A young boy lives in a working-class neighbourhood. His father is a concentration camp survivor, who is heavily traumatized by the events during the second World War. Tensions run high between father and son, but the mother manages to keep things going, together with her brother, a taxi driver. But the fragile balance is disrupted as the mother is hospitalized with cancer. Frankie starts attending punk concerts with his Surinamese friend, Jeffrey, but then becomes emmeshed with Robbert and his skinhead friends as he looks for a diversion away from home. Then his mother dies, and things go from bad to worse. One evening, Robbert and he are attacked by a gang of Suriname boys and in the scuffle Frankie stabs a boy. In a later scene, as the thugs run off, we see how Frankie's uncle refuses to take them to the hospital in his taxi.

In prison, Frankie has a difficult time of it. His shaved head and swastika tattoos do not make him very popular with the guards and the other prisoners. His father finally manages to visit him in the prison, and they settle their differences, once and for all. That same evening, Frankie is stabbed by another, black prisoner.

The one scene that stays with me is the father who stretches out his hand, to caress his son's shaved head in prison. The sleeve on his arm rises up due to the movement and you can make out the tattood digits of his concentration camp number.

Interestingly enough, the lead character does try to make up for his behaviour but his apologies always escalate, progressively taking him on the road to violence and murder. All he wants is a group to belong to, a community (like his father seeks consolation among the Jewish community).

The saddest scene has to be the one where Frankie, his dad and uncle sit around the kitchen table, each in their corner, weeping for Anna, who has just died.

The movie was based on true facts: in 1983 Nico Bodemeijer killed a 15-year old Surinamese boy. His father was Jewish, Bodemeijer had the words 100% white tattooed on his arm. He is still in prison today, but recently spoke for the first time about his life.

3 messages:

Vic said...

Can you believe I'm only seeing your template for the first time now - for some reason it doesn't load at work. Me likes.

FeroMoon said...

Tada,surprise!!!The link for the complete movie SKIN:
Yes, in dutch...

Lula de Montes said...

Thanks, Fero!

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