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June 3, 2015
Review: Short Skin

short skinIt’s about time American audiences feasted on a sex comedy with more than just a shallow heartbeat. Unlike American Pie, which was too sanitized, too clean, too "Hollywood", Duccio Chiarini’s Short Skin has dared to go where its predecessor only hinted at, and in one scene does so literally, using a food item in the form of a succulent sea creature. Although it would most likely be packaged as such in America, it turns out that Chiarini’s debut film is far more than a “sex comedy”.

In a world obsessed with fornicating, Edo (Matteo Creatini) is secretly dealing with phimosis, a painful condition in which the foreskin of the penis is too tight to be pulled back to reveal the glans. As if that weren’t traumatizing enough for a seventeen-year-old, he is also juggling the recent death of his grandfather with the crazy antics of his loving, but suffocating family, while grappling with the fact that his next-door neighbor and dream girl Bianca (Francesca Agostini) is moving to Paris. Unable to make a move and with no one to confide in aside from crude best friend Arturo (Nicola Nocchi), Edo winds up in compromising positions in attempts to come out of his shell, so to speak.

It’s not only Edo's condition that troubles him, it’s the fact that he’s trying to find meaningful connections in a world where everyone around him appears superficial in matters of the heart. His younger sister's (Bianca Ceravolo) sole purpose in life seems to be getting her dog laid, and their parents (played by Michele Crestacci and Bianca Nappi) are wrapped up in their own sexual drama. Enter Elisabetta (Mariana Raschillà), a mature alternative girl that falls for Edo’s quiet bookishness. She recognizes that he’s different from everyone else in town. When Bianca meets Elisabetta, she suddenly begins to view Edo in a new light, creating deeper emotional and physical anguish.

Dripping with honesty and insight, Chiarini’s script explores the multiple barriers that keep Edo from overcoming his life’s challenges. He must stop letting his fears keep him from taking action before these obstacles become insurmountable. Accompanied by a perfectly suited folksy soundtrack, Creatini’s subdued portrayal of Edo is heartfelt and appealing. It’s hardly difficult to imagine a boy like him attracting girls. Short Skin is an intimate, thoughtful character study of a teenager on a journey from fear to self-actualization and fulfillment.

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