Jason Victor Everett’s short film, Skinhead Requiem, is a tale of a man getting his final visit in prison before his death. Both grizzled priest (Tom Noonan) and skinhead inmate (Jason Victor Everett) share the somber experience, first with the priest telling a tale before the inmate gets his remaining thoughts out. It’s a quiet conversation, but one with loud echoes through both men’s lives.
The standout star of Skinhead Requiem, and technically you only get two real choices between the priest and inmate, is Tom Noonan’s priest. He does have a leg up because the short gives him the most camera time, especially in the opening, but Noonan’s performance is captivating regardless, and not in that “I’ve going to use ‘captivating’ because it’s an easy review buzzword” sense; as he told his opening story, you couldn’t pull me away from the screen. And since the short is only eight minutes long, if Noonan isn’t up to the task, this could easily be a forgettable conversation and experience.
Noonan makes the film, and it is worth watching, even if you don’t get anything out of it beyond his performance. I think there is a bit more to it, however, as it’s a subtle study on generations and how traits and elements of our past influence our future, whether they have any merit or not. The inmate committed to a way of life based on how he was raised, and reactions to that life experience, and the priest likewise has to come to a reckoning with that. In some ways, the last rites are not just for the inmate, but for the road he walked. Likewise, the death of not just a man, but the ideas and experiences that formed him.
Skinhead Requiem proves that the simplest scenario of two guys talking can actually be quite compelling, provided the conversation is intriguing and the performances engaging. In this case, before you even know what the inmate looks like, you’ve already invested in the story; anything that comes next works only to heighten the experience.
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