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4.7 out of 5 stars40
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 8 August 2010
I watched this movie as I grew up in another divided country and am always interested in the impact inequality has on non political, 'ordinary' people. This story actually shocked me. I had watched Cry Freedom, which I loved, and other movies that dealt with racial struggles. However, I never considered this aspect and found it heart wrenching. The acting is magnificent and worthy of Oscars. Sophie Okeneido is a brilliant actress and her portrayal of Sandra is totally convincing. At times it's difficult and uncomfortable to watch because your basic instinct is to protect a child from emotional and psychological pain and you know this just isn't going to happen. I would highly recommend this film. It is thought provoking and reveals a side to apartheid that is less well known of. We tend to focus on the Mandelas, Bikos et al. and forget about the other tragedies brought about by apartheid.
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on 10 August 2010
Drama set mainly during the Apartheid-era in South Africa telling the story of Sandra Laing (played by Sophie Okonedo), a young Afrikanner woman who although having white biological parents by a genetic fluke is born black and the problems that this causes her in the society in which she lives. A stirring performance largely by Sophie Okonedo (who plays Sandra Laing from about the age of 17) as we follow Sandra Laing's life over a period of about 30 years; from when she is about 10 to 12 years old and experiences severe racism from staff and pupils at the boarding school she is attending because she is seen as black (the 10 to 12 year old Laing is played by another actress, not Okonedo); through the landmark court case that her parents fight in which she is officially classed as white; through her disownment at about the age of 17 by her parents when she falls for and elopes with a young black man who works for her father; through her decision to be reclassified as black because she feels rejected by Afrikanner society; through times of severe hardship such as when the Afrikanner establishment bulldozes her home because the government has decreed that the settlement in which she lives is now in a `whites-only' area; through seeing her husband and father of her two children over time become a violent drunk who at least once violently assaults her, leading her to leave him and fend for her two children on her own as a black single mother in apartheid-era south Africa; and finally through the pain that Laing carries over a period of about 20 years because she is estranged from her parents and wishes to be reunited with them again (especially her mother). Most of the film takes place against the backdrop of the injustice that was apartheid in South Africa and the film does not shy away from graphic depictions of the racism, prejudice and hostility towards blacks that was prevalent during the apartheid-era in South Africa. Although a somewhat bleak film with much sorrow in it, the film does end on a hopeful note as Laing lives to see the abolition of apartheid when she is in her forties (in the early 1990s) and the beginnings of the new South Africa. Hence the film's story is ultimately a positive one, because Laing's story is also the story of South Africa. Rewarding viewing.
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on 5 May 2010
Although I only now stumbled onto this movie,I can faithfully,as as Sa'n person of mixed race,descride the facts behind these dreadful events.
In 1948 when the nationalist Apartheid regime came to power,it was realised that the Afrikaaner's(boer) numbers should be bolstered further.To this end people with a fairer complexsion,blue or green eyes and blonde hair were picked of the street and also amongst the coloured community.People of mixed race were classified as coloured,mixed race,other coloured etc.To this day there are coloured people who lost relatives,into "white SA".However there was also a lot of "play-whites",coloured people that appeared just about white,they somehow obtained white identity documents and sailed into luxury. This movie,I would say,are testament how well integration worked in SA,before 1948.
All Kudus should be given to the parents for not giving their child up at infancy,when her appearance would have really embarrassed them.Parents like these two normally took their throwback child to orphanages,where the almost white child was preferred and eagerly adopted by coloureds families.Also whites that still had coloured relatives,although they would never mix,would take the throwback child to these relatives and let the child grow up with them.Children like these a provide a substantial income,coz their parents,as whites earned top dollars in SA and the host coloured family much less.A truly mixed up society SA was.
This brings us to another statistic in SA,the country had the highest degree of familicide,in the world.One of the causes cloud've been the dilemma brought onto families by such a destructive racist policy,so much so that they were required to forsake their own kids.Must be terrible on any parent to live such a lie.
Lastly I doubt whether the girl would've married a black man,coz the coloureds were used as a bufferzone against blacks,there was a more closer proximity between coloureds and whites,they speak the same langauge and coloureds was much more easily accepted than the African.
Lastly,please excuse my grammar,english are my 2nd langauge.Thank you.
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on 11 March 2010
I heard about this film via a piece on the news in which the lady that this film is about was interviewed briefly. Needless to say I was intrigued to see the true life story of a woman born to white parents in South Africa who has the appearance of a black person. Unfortunately this film is not a so much a study of identity politics as it is a competent family drama. The film comes across as a TV drama more than a film for the big screen. It seems to lack the ambition needed for a feature film. I feel like the movie skirts around the pain that rejection by colour causes to people and instead wants the audience to assume the hurt and confusion this brings about. Much of the film relies on looks and facial expressions to convey emotions rather than dialogue or artistic representation. I think that it is this that causes the film to feel like a lightweight treatment of a serious topic. Not that this isn't a good film, it is and it is very worthy without being preachy. It just doesn't have the gravity that I expected.

The story telling has a neat twist in that it beings pretty much at the end of the events it portrays and then works its way back to the beginning until reaching its natural conclusion. The viewer is introduced to the very basics of apartheid South Africa and is then shown the protagonist, Sandra Laing who in fact appears mixed race than just black. There are all the scenes you would expect, the outrage her very existence caused to white South African society, Sandra's confusion, her family's struggle to cope with the prejudices of society and their own. Sandra's life is shown as a battle to understand herself and to preserve her dignity. This is also a tale of her two beleaguered parents especially her mother and their complex often painful relationship with their daughter. Sandra is depicted as a brave person, a stoic who carried on with her life in the face of much adversity. The film does end nicely and from an optimistic point of view. The sentiment is, I think, that where there is life something will happen and good will come after terrible hardship.

The acting cannot really be faulted. The best performance comes from Okonedo who plays Sandra with sensitivity and there is also sterling support from Neill.

I feel like the script is lacking somewhat. There are no explorations of identity and exclusion either in monologues or conversations. It is all fairly conventional speech that didn't produce any sense of wonder or sadness in me.

The film is centred mainly on the family home in the Transvaal with a few scenes in South Africa's largest city Johannesburg. The viewer is only shown glimpses of South African society at that time by way of scenes shot in a school, a government department, the horror of displacement etc.

I do feel that this is an important film and I note that it sadly did not attract any attention from the BAFTAs or the Oscars though it did win other awards. It probably merits a second viewing and it is preferable to a lot of the escapist nonsense currently on offer. A mature film from director Anthony Fabian.
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on 21 March 2010
Skin provides an accurate and alarming portrait of the apartheid phase in South Africa. It is parallel presented, as it switches between the actual apartheid phase and the aftermath of the phase. The events depicted in the movie are actually true, as it unfolds a biographical account about Sandra Laing. The character is categorised as coloured, but it does not sound genetically possible for two Afrikaners to produce a colour offspring.

The story is a rare case, but stunned everyone in South Africa and created a high profiled race row, spanning decades. Sandra suffered the cruelty and the mounting prejudice tarnishing the nation reputation and the country paid the price for it. Acceptance in society was hard for Sandra, due to colour of skin. The laws created a bitter relation between White and Blacks and it an ugly picture of humanity. Her parents did everything to overturn the laws, but their true colours are shockingly revealed in the film. We expected them to be descent and trustworthy souls of society. The relations suffered between Sandra and the parents, as she escapes in the wilderness for years. Families are precious, but suffered a cruel blow when one issue created a level of discontent. The film share emotional moments and depicts the true and disturbing nature of South Africa many years ago.

Skin is compelling, moving and emotionally piece of film-making. The acting is quality, particularly Sophie Okeonedo performance as Sandra Laing and supporting acting deserves strong praise. I almost shed in tears whilst watching the movie and questioned can we ever live in a perfect world. The film shares a different perspective about the Apartheid phase. It is painted in a prismatic light.
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on 2 March 2012
It is South Africa under Apartheid. An Afrikaner couple has a dark skin daughter. They insist she is white. She thinks she is white. Everything is fine until she is sent to a school, a white school. Then the problems begin, shaking their little world which the father worked hard to protect with pride.

This is a true story about prejudice, about a young girl who is torn between the world as she knows it and the real world; between an identity her parents wish her to assume, and identity that is dictated not by who she is -- her personality, knowledge, education, upbringing, wit, mentality -- but by the sole crude criterion: The colour of her skin. In the world of South Africa's apartheid, this was enough to dictate one's destiny.

This is a tragic story about belonging, the mistakes people make when they think of "the big picture" at the expense of the immediate details, the "here and now". The price of pride and prejudice can be very high indeed. At the end of the film we learn that Sandra Laing's two brothers refuse to be in touch with her until today because she brought up two coloured children. Some people are so closed up in their own small and prejudiced world that they are unable to change.

The acting of Sophie Okonedo as Sandra and Alice Kreig as her mother who is unwilling to forgive herself for giving up on her daughter is excellent. Sam Neill is superb as always in the role of Sandra's father who refuses to comprehend that all argumentation cannot stand in the face of one simple fact: The colour of skin. And when Sandra chooses to live in the only place where she could possibly be accepted, he burns all her belongings and deletes her from his family.
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on 6 September 2010
This is an effective portrayal of the difficulties faced in South Africa at the time. Well worth seeing with high calibre performances from the cast, superb cinematography and sensitively directed by Anthony Fabian.
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on 31 January 2013
Great adaptation of a true story drenched in apartheid and shockingly real. A film which should be used to teach about apartheid, racism and sociology!
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on 9 May 2013
This movie is brilliant but heartbreaking. The fact it is based on a true story makes the emotion stronger still
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on 5 August 2010
This film is supberb, both in cinematography, but also in its message. Everyone should watch this and think about it. And incredibly it is a true story, this woman is one to admire. Surviving all that pain and abuse and coming out smiling positive and setting up her wee rainbow cafe. Bless her people could learn alot from sandra laing. Its very moving and made me cry buckets.
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