Reviewed by: Richard Schmitz
Starring: Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Michelle Thrush, Nathaniel Arcand, Noah Watts | Directed by: Chris Eyre | Produced by: Jon Kilik, David Pomier | Written by: Jennifer D. Lyne, Adrian C. Lewis, based on the book by Adrian C. Lewis | Distributor: First Look Features
There is no question that the relationship between the overall community of believing Christians and the Native American culture has been a troubled one; hopefully, Native American filmmakers such as Chris Eyre will help this issue by broadening the dialogue. Unfortunately, Eyre falls short in his new film “Skins,” at least when compared to his first movie “Smoke Signals”.
“Skins”, for the most part, lacks plot, while immersing the viewer in the realities of Sioux Indians’ poverty and despair on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is the poorest single county in the United States. Eyre and screenwriter Jennifer Lyne offer little in the way of answers or a way to move forward from the moral and physical morass the film’s subjects are entwined in.
One bit of dialog is telling: the two main characters discuss the traditional belief that the gods, and not man, control one’s destiny. As Christians we know this is not true; that God has given us free will, that he loves us, and does not wish us to fester in poverty and despair. The message of “Skins”, sadly, is a bitter one, and for the most part places blame on the overall Judeo-Christian, American culture.
“Skins”, however, is a sincere effort and is deserving of respect. The main characters are brothers Rudy and Mogie. Rudy, played with skill and passion by Eric Schweig, is a tribal police officer who turns to vigilante justice as he sees his community struggle against needless violence and alcoholism. Mogie, a decorated Viet Nam veteran, is a hard core alcoholic who is dying of liver disease. He’s played by Graham Greene in a performance that’s a little over the top at times. What plot there is follows their relationship.
“Skins” is not a Hollywood film, so the non-stop vulgar language and occasional brutal violence is used in order to maintain realism and is not gratuitous. Overall, however, it’s hard to recommend this film because it, in the end, offers little hope for the future. As a Christian, that’s too bad.