Original Skin Image

Original Skin

By Bradley Gibson | May 21, 2024

In director Mdhamiri Á Nkemi’s short film Original Skin, there’s more to take in emotionally than to know intellectually. In the alternate world of this film, having sex results in a complete body swap. We follow a young woman, played by Sorcha Groundsell, with a sensitive red patch on her arm that she picks at. She’s literally uncomfortable in her own skin. The woman is driven through London to a dance club in a car with another woman she calls “sister.” Perhaps they are a religious order of some description. Perhaps they are familial sisters. Our lead character seems nervous, and the “sister” offers to take her home. She declines, wears a sequined jacket, and heads into the club.

She soon becomes enamored of another woman partying there, and they later have a steamy erotic session that evokes the body swap. When she returns to meet her “sister,” she seems unsurprised that a seemingly different person is getting in the car. But she’s also deeply upset and tells her that she must always switch back bodies or she can’t come home. No reason for this is given.

“…she must always switch back bodies or she can’t come home…”

Original Skin is vague in such a way that one can superimpose on it any number of anxieties and responses to traditional oppression, and that is the brilliance of Nkemi and writer Eve Hedderwick Turner. Taboos around sex and identity, skin color, body shape and size, age, and disability are all reasons one might wish to have a different physical body. While we don’t exactly know all the rules and implications of the main character’s actions here, we get enough of a sense of how things work in this universe to see the ludicrous constraints of our own reflected in that mirror. The performances take the viewer into the emotional context immediately. Original Skin is as near perfect as a short trip can be. The film is erotic and thoughtful. That’s a hell of a lot of cinematic contemplation to accomplish in a short film.

Original Skin (2024)

Directed: Mdhamiri Á Nkemi

Written: Eve Hedderwick Turner

Starring: Olive Gray, Sorcha Groundsell, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Original Skin Image

"…having sex results in a complete body swap..."

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