American Skin is a drama written and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars in the film. The story tells of a Marine veteran who takes matters into his own hands after his son is killed by a police officer. This film was released in September of 2019 yet I had not heard of it — talk about existing under the radar! Having said all that, American Skin was referred to me by a family member. I believe it is the most powerful film with the most powerful message I’ve seen and heard in a decade.
Lincoln Jefferson (Nate Parker), a U.S. Marine veteran who works as a janitor at a prestigious and mostly white junior high school, is in the process of strengthening his relationship with his 14-year-old son Kajani Jefferson (Tony Espinosa) after he and his wife Tayana Jefferson (Milauna Jackson) divorced. One night, after picking his son up from a friend’s house in a prominent, all-white neighborhood, the two are pulled over by police during a routine traffic stop. When Kajani starts to record the incident on his cell phone, he is shot and killed by one of the officers, right in front of his father. A year later, a young college student Jordin King (Shane Paul McGhie) with a camera crew consisting of one female student shows up at Lincoln’s home to create a documentary for a film festival. After officer Randall (Beau Knapp) is cleared of any wrongdoing without having to face trial, violent neighborhood riots erupted, which prompted the police captain Eugene Morris (Wolfgang Bodison) to visit Kajani’s mother’s home to ask her to tell the community to conduct a peaceful protest instead of rioting and violence.
At this point in the film, you are pretty frustrated having heard this type of story over and over. Suddenly, everything changes and you are on the edge of your seat. While I will not tell you anymore of this plot because I don’t want to spoil what you never saw coming I will tell you what follows is truly jaw-dropping and eye-opening. I believe this movie should be shown in every school, precinct, and police academy. Kudos to Nate Parker for a job well done, despite his personal past. Over its first two weeks of release, the film finished in the top 10 on FandangoNow, Google Play, and Spectrum’s PVOD rental charts. The Hollywood Reporter reported that American Skin was cheered by the Venice audience and received a seven-minute standing ovation. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 33% of 18 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.8/10 but 95% out of 500+ audience views.
OTHER CRITIC’S REMARKS:
Owen Gleiberman of Variety said, “It’s a good movie: tense, bold, angry, empathetic, provocative, observant, morally engaged… The script – is what I associate with a certain kind of powerful playwriting, as in a drama like 12 Angry Men. The dialogue is searing, forceful, edge-of-the-brain topical.”
Elisabeth Sereda of the Golden Globe Awards hailed American Skin as “a lesson in race relations in a country with a current government that is not famous for knowing or caring much about this topic.” Sereda wrote: “The film is anything but predictable, and its message is far from the usual cliché we hear on the news.”
I absolutely discovered profound powerful solutions in American Skin, which is a Spike Lee production and is streaming on Prime Video for $3.99. It’s worth the cost — it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before – Check It Out!