A Marine Searches for Answers After the Police Shoot His Son in 'American Skin'

Writer / director Nate Parker stars in American Skin, a film that is purposely intended to spark discussion about how law enforcement works in this country and whether it is the men and women of the streets that we should hold accountable.
"American Skin" is now available digitally or can be borrowed via VoD.
Parker plays Lincoln Jefferson, a Marine Corps veteran divorced who works as a janitor and sends his son KJ (Tony Espinosa) to a private school. The father and son are stopped while driving through an affluent neighborhood and KJ insists on filming the traffic obstruction on his phone because of his father's objections.
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The film fast-forward a year until a grand jury refuses to charge the police officers (Theo Rossi and Beau Knapp) with KJ's death as a shooter. While a student documentary crew films his reactions, Jefferson gets past his son's death and decides to seek justice by taking over a police station and holding his own trial.
There are a few important things to consider when watching this movie.
First, it's in no way "realistic". Parker isn't really suggesting that a father could lead a successful and relatively bloodless takeover of a police station. He is interested in a tool of action that will lock law enforcement agencies in a room with the dead boy's family and friends for the kind of unfiltered communication he thinks is impossible with the media involved.
Second, "American Skin" was written and produced prior to 2020, meaning it was made before George Floyd, a summer of protests against Black Lives Matter, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an almost successful takeover of the United States Capitol Building. What probably felt like a daring and purely metaphorical act two years ago doesn't seem that far removed from our actual reality now.
Parker is not trying to be subtle. His hero is a Marine whose name is "Lincoln Jefferson". He is a veteran who can only find work as a janitor. KJ is remarkably smart, curious, and committed to his schoolwork. He makes sure there is no gray area: These are good Americans whose fault is being born black.
He is also determined to let the police have their say. Officials are being forced to reconsider their prejudices as they face a "trial" that Jefferson designed to be stacked against them as he believes real courts are stacked against minority defendants.
When they stop a car like Jeffersons, the police are doing their job as assigned, and the film is determined to show the burden the duty puts on a man's conscience.
Would a real marine attack cops? If I had written this article two weeks ago I would not have said a way, but that was before the January 6th photos.
Parker puts all of his characters in a box and solves an impossible situation where everyone better understands the other side before judgment is made. That's before a series of twists and turns lead to an ending that is meant to put the audience into action.
"American Skin" is stage-like and simple, but Parker may have a point there. Millions of words have been written and thousands of hours spent on cable television understanding the intricacies of race and law enforcement in America. This film makes everyone make a blunt and direct point and forces the other side to listen.
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