Jamie Bell plays Babs, a skinhead, face tattooed neo-Nazi. He is trapped in his family’s neo-nazi group. He works as a tattoo artist by day, working for money to donate to this hate-filled group. Then heading out at night to start fights and in one shocking part of the film, burn down a mosque.
He is utterly transformative in the movie. Once he meets his girlfriend, played by Danielle Mcdonald (Patti Cake$) and begins to fall in love, we start to intercut with his tattoo removal process. He is shedding his former skin and becoming a new man.
A surprise addition to this film was Vera Farmiga as Babs’ racist and overprotective mother, she is also great in this film. She feels evil and radiates it completely. Even down to her costuming and make-up, just pure nazi evil.
In a lot of ways, this film is ruthless to watch. We see such brutal acts in all their horribleness. Racism, fascism and a healthy dose of sexism are all present in this man’s life, and the film does not shy away from this. Some scenes are tough to watch, especially the scene mentioned previously. It was so eye-opening that it made me almost ashamed to live in a world where things like this take place.
It brings up some politics that may be hard to hear for some, and in some ways makes us question, can people who have done such terrible things change? It is an interesting question and one that is asked of the audience throughout the film. Bab’s is encouraged to change by supporting character whose life this is based on as well.
Mike Colter (Luke Cage) plays this role, that is so small that I don’t remember his name. I wish this weren’t the case because the life of this activist who actively tries to convert fascists is an interesting one. Judging by the end credits, it is something that the film thinks it is about when, in reality, I felt the film has much more to focus on in the family drama.
Overall, the film is a truly wild ride with a redemption arc that will make you question the cancel culture of today’s society. But also where you draw the line on where people should be forgiven. The man teeters on edge for me it is difficult to say all is forgiven, which makes the film quite controversial for humanising him. Jamie Bell is brilliant and transformative. Plus, I cannot deny that the film is “raw” and feels true to life. I don’t know how many times I can say brutal, but did I mention this film is brutal?