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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 01.31.12]

Year: 2011
Director: Derek Franson
Writer: Derek Franson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

It's easy to say that perseverance pays off but actually sticking with something until you've achieved your goal isn't nearly as easy and more often than not, it ends with disappointment. The team behind Comforting Skin were in that exact situation ten years ago when their first attempt at shooting the film fell apart days into filming. They were determined to see it finished and after years of perseverance and determination, the film premiered at VIFF last year before being selected for Slamdance in 2012. Not bad for a film that almost didn't happen.

A tale of self-discovery, Comforting Skin stars Victoria Bidewell as Koffie, a beautiful but uncertain young woman with low self esteem. She dates broken men that leave her depressed and in even lower spirits which she then cries about to her roommate Nathan (Tygh Runyan), a genius composer who seems afraid of his own shadow.

With teen naivete that it will get her noticed among the masses of other women, Koffie stops in at a tattoo parlour and gets herself inked. For days she makes every effort to show off the new addition. It's, obviously, not an effective way to attract men's attention and just as she's hitting bottom something amazing happens: the tattoo comes alive. At first the effects are positive. Koffie's energy rises as does her self esteem and just as she's revelling in this new positive energy, her relationship with the tattoo takes a turn for the worst.

At its core, Comforting Skin is a story of self discovery and self love, something that both sexes struggle with but what's interesting is that this particular story that so intimately explores a woman's struggle with self esteem and love is penned by a man. Writer/director Derek Franson's story arc for Koffie is ugly and difficult and at times uncomfortable to watch because it feels realistic and actress Victoria Bidewell lives up to the challenge. It's a difficult role, one that has the actress at both ends of the emotional spectrum and though it sometimes feels overblown, the melodrama doesn't detract from her difficult performance. For his part, Tygh Runyan is also quite good as the mousy roommate who secretly loves Koffie but this is Bidwell's show and she more than lives up to the challenge.

For most of the film's running time the tattoo itself is central to the story and the combination of design and animation of the tattoo is both beautiful and creepy, giving life to Koffie's innermost desires. I can't imagine what the tattoo would have looked like had the film been finished the first time out the gate but certainly nowhere near as alive and effective as modern technology has rendered it.

I really enjoyed Comforting Skin which doesn't only look great but features strong performances and a story that we can all relate to. My one complaint is that the film is a little on the long side and could afford to lose 10 to 15 minutes from the second act because by the time Koffie comes to realize that the tattoo is doing her more harm than good, I had already lost much of the connection I had with the character (it had been replaced by pity and then anger that she still hand't snapped out of it); it does her a great disservice and brings down the film's effectiveness a few notches.

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loci (9 years ago) Reply

An artistic and unique movie poster....very rare these days.

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