Jamie Bell gives a compelling performance as a neo-Nazi trying to change his ways in Guy Nattiv’s Skin
Nazis seem to be having something of a comeback in movies – what is it they say about life mirroring art? But if you thought that Patrick Stewart (Green Room) and Daniel Radcliffe (Imperium) were the least likely of the recent wave of screen fascists, what about Jamie Bell? Once the adorable Billy Elliot, he’s now playing a skin-head so hard he’s owning the name Babs in Guy Nattiv’s Skin.
The sweetness Bell showed as that pint-sized Geordie ballet-nut is on display here, despite being covered head to toe in swastika tattoos and opening the film by viciously beating black teenagers at a white-supremacist rally. His redemption comes in the form of Julie (Macdonald) and her three young daughters. Even as he begins to reject his hateful ideology in favour of a quiet family life, his skin reminds himself and everyone around him of his past.
Skin isn’t always convincing – is the love of a good woman all a Nazi needs to change their ways? – but Bell certainly is. Long one of our most compelling actors, he makes Nattiv’s rather shallow film feel like its ideas go further than skin deep.
Released 27 Sep by Lionsgate; certificate 15