DVD Review of Skins
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 10/14/05


  Skins is director Chris Eyreís follow up to the 1997 Native American film Smoke Signals. Like the first film Skins is a comedy drama that has moments, and is a sound film, but could have done a bit more, and often settles into PC preachiness. One would have hoped Eyre would have matured as a filmmaker in the interim. The main character is Rudy Yellow Lodge (Eric Schweig), a reservation cop on the Pine Ridge Reservation for Oglala Sioux in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He is dissatisfied with his job and life, and even more so with his older brother Mogie (Graham Greene), a stereotypical lazy and drunken Indian, who is a source of embarrassment for Rudy. He is also a Vietnam veteran, haunted by that war, and unable to take care of his teenaged son Herby (Noah Watts). After some violence directed against the tribe Rudy snaps and becomes a vigilante, first brutalizing two teenagers responsible for an attack on another boy, and then setting ablaze a local liquor store he blames for the Rezís woes. Unfortunately, Mogie happens to be sleeping off a drinking binge after breaking into the store, and is severely scarred by the fire, which guts into Rudy. While at the hospital for his fire recovery itís discovered that Mogie has a terminal liver disease. Rudy, in his guilt, decides to live out a foolish act of vandalism, once Mogie dies, as a penance.

  Overall, the film is solid, but there are times when the lighting and set up of scenes feels very amateurish. The story is rather banal, and dull, but Schweig and Greene, as the brothers, almost make up for that, and Greene is that rare actor who can both play a stereotype and subvert it. Schweig, as Rudy, is also very good, although no credible reason for his mental break is given. The scenes of the menís youth is a place where more could have been fleshed out, and a focus on the brothers, and Mogie and his son, would have been far more effective than Rudyís break. There is also a wasted romance between Rudy and Stella, played by the beautiful Michelle Thrush- an actress who can say more in a silent glance than many can in a two minute monologue. Yet, despite these positives, the film is a bit of a dud. Hopefully, in whatever his third project is, Chris Eyre can put all the wonderful little parts, moments, and performances into a tour de force.

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