SKIN DEEP is a very deep and emotional sci-fi thriller drama from Germany (org. title: Aus meiner Haut). The plot features the classic “body swap”-element, but here it’s all intentional. Screening at Fantasia 2023. Read our full Skin Deep movie review here!
SKIN DEEP is a new sci-fi movie from Germany (org. title: Aus meiner Haut) with a very deep and emotional dramatic storyline. The core plot features an element of “body swapping”. However, this isn’t Freaky or any other kind of accidental body swap.
No, this is all very intentional and includes only willing participants. However, this also means people can have very different reasons for wanting to participate. Mostly it’s one of two; Wanting to try on someone else’s skin or escaping your own. For one of our main characters, it’s very much the latter.
Continue reading our Skin Deep movie review below. Screening at Fantasia 2023.
Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
In Skin Deep, people are given the opportunity to actually walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Or actually, they get to spend quite some time in another person’s body while they inhabit yours.
We’re at a communal summer retreat set on a remote island, and this is the place where two people are able to swap bodies. Or swap minds, if you will. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see with new eyes and feel with new skin, then this is for you. You’ll even be feeling a new different chemical balance.
Of course, you’ll also be letting someone else use your body. At this one location, but still. Personally, I think I’d have more of an issue with that part.
Also, importantly, it is made very clear that you can change back at any time. No reason or explanation is needed. If anyone wants to stop and swap back, then it happens. Everyone has to agree to this.
The need to escape from yourself
In Skin Deep, we follow the young couple Leyla (Mala Emde) and Tristan (Jonas Dassler). From just looking at them, you can tell that while they clearly love each other, Leyla is quite sad. Whether she’s depressed or just recovering from something isn’t quite clear at first. However, that quickly changes, as we see her blossom as soon as she’s in a new body.
Leyla simply needs to escape from herself. And probably very much her chemical balance as her “swapper” also comment on the strange feeling of being in her skin. However, it seems more like Leyla’s mind and body just aren’t very compatible.
What happens if someone dies while being in another body, you might wonder? Well, the answer is given right from the get-go when we meet Stella. She’s a young girl in an old man’s body.
Watching Leyla and Tristan meet the couple they’ll be body-swapping with is cringey. Mostly due to the man in the other couple, who is just a lot. The other couple, Fabienne (Maryam Zaree) and Mo (Dimitrij Schaad) are total opposites of Leyla and Tristan. Obviously, this makes it even easier to see when they body-swap. However, it is also always noted on screen when someone swaps.
Watch Skin Deep when you can!
Alex Schaad is the director of Skin Deep which he wrote with Dimitrij Schaad. It’s a very intimate and character-driven movie that is ultimately a sci-fi romance. You’ll be able to laugh and feel with and for the characters. Also, I loved how the body swapping could happen across age, race, and gender.
Skin Deep won the Queer Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and is very much worthy of this as well. The LGBTQ element is there throughout as people swap genders back and forth. Both with strangers and within a relationship to better understand the life experience of the other.
As you watch this, you’ll probably start to question your own experience and identity. Not that you’ll question your gender or sexuality, but rather it makes you wonder what you might feel like if you saw the world through other eyes. Overall, this movie offers a very life-affirming message about the differences that bind us more than divide us. If we allow this.
The original German title of Aus meiner Haut means something along the lines of “out of my skin” which is exactly what one character craves. In this movie, there’s room for both the fun and fascinating sides and the deep and emotional elements. Do check it out when you get the chance.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what writer-director Alex Schaad (with co-writer and co-star Dimitrij Schaad) does next!
Skin Deep (org. title: Aus meiner Haut) was screened at Fantasia 2023. It will be out in limited theaters from February 2, 2024.
Director: Alex Schaad
Writers: Alex Schaad, Dimitrij Schaad
Cast: Jonas Dassler, Mala Emde, Dimitrij Schaad, Thomas Wodianka, Maryam Zaree
At first glance, Leyla and Tristan seem like a happy young couple. But when they travel to a mysterious, remote island, a game of identities begins, which changes everything – their perception, their sexuality, their whole “self”. Not only is their relationship in jeopardy, they may never be who they once were again…