Skin (2008, Anthony Fabian)

An extremely by-the-numbers account of a girl named Sandra born with black skin to white parents and what that means in apartheid-era South Africa. A couple of surreal moments (after a law change, Sandra’s dad Sam Neill proclaims that his daughter is white again) but mostly a straightforward story with oscar-wannabe production (no dice, but won two major awards at the Pan-African festival in L.A.) and no particular interest.

Young Sandra grows into Sophie Okonedo (who had hands-for-feet in Aeon Flux). She and her mom Alice Krige (star of Institute Benjamenta) are the powerhouse actors of the film (that’s not Sam Neill’s fault – he just has to be a bitter ol’ racist, and does a fine job at it). The movie is (of course! apartheid!) full of easy-target racist characters calculated to inflame audience emotion. Surprisingly, Sandra’s older brother becomes one of them late in the film. She gives up on the white life, runs off with a black man (Tony Kgoroge of Invictus) and has two kids, but leaves him after a beating, moves to Jo-burg and gets a factory job. Dad never gets a reconciliation, but mom (with decent old-age makeup) does.

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