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A lonely child taxidermist makes friends with a girl who's fascinated by his hobby. But one day he does something that will change everything.

10 – 15 | 2012 | Childhood | Drama | Live-Action | USA

A smalltown somewhere in the U.S.A. Ben is a lonely child, quite different from the others. He has a very unique hobby: taxidermy. He spends his days stuffing squirrels and other animals, and doesn’t have many friends – in fact, because of his passion, he’s considered to be some sort of freak. He does, however, have a friend a friend, a girl that’s intrigued and fascinated by his bizarre activity. The two bond, have fun together, and Ben’s life changes for the better. But one day Samantha’s dog dies, and that breaks her heart. What her friend will do then, with the typical innocence of a child, will change everything.

Although, perhaps, the development of the story is easy to understand from the beginning, this doesn’t spoil the viewer’s enjoyment. The wonderful desaturated tones of the cinematography, combined with an excellent sound design and especially with the incredible natural talent of the two young actors, making their screen debut here, give the short a great quality. The two protagonists are especially striking, for various reasons. We are far from mainstream cinema’s prissy and perfect children, they are simply two young kids from a remote town in the southern United States, and sometimes it feels like watching a documentary, such is the “normality” that is perceived.

This realism in approaching childhood is becoming a fairly widespread tendency in contemporary American independent cinema, seen in films like Mud and The Place Beyond The Pines. The added element here is that of taxidermy, a rather disturbing activity that shocks the calm realism of the film, introducing something off, macabre, almost horrorific.  The ingenuity with which Ben decides to remedy the loss of his friend is also very touching: it is the delicate way in which this innocence is shown that gives depth to the story.

Jordana Spiro is a long-time television actress, on this  is her third short as a director. It is yet another proof of how independent cinema and the short films world are much more welcoming to female filmmakers than mainstrem Hollywood. Skin was presented at SXSW and Sundance, where the director has been invited to participate to the  Screenwriter’s Lab, where she developed a screenplay about a young man just out of reform school who wants to avenge the murder of his mother.

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

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