Skin (12A)

Reviewed,Anthony Quinn
Friday 24 July 2009 00:00

Anthony Fabian's film tells such a bizarre story it could only be based on the truth.

In the apartheid South Africa of the 1950s a black child, Sandra Laing, is born to white Afrikaner parents (Sam Neill and Alice Krige). Despite this pigmentary anomaly, the girl is classified as "white" but finds herself shunned by school and society alike. When, as a teenager (now played by Sophie Okonedo), Sandra falls for a black man she is suddenly forced to choose between loyalty to her family or being reclassified as "coloured" so that she can marry. A long nightmare of unbelonging ensues, highlighting both Sandra's astonishing resilence and the imbecile cruelties of apartheid. The early scenes are slightly stiff, and the acting uncertain, but this story of estrangement is sufficiently remarkable in itself, and Sophie Okonedo – herself raised by white parents – devotes herself admirably to the part.

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