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The movie leaves little room for nuance or thoughtful contemplation even if the picture is mostly entertaining and has a premise you can’t help but be intrigued by.

Freely inspired by the true tale of 'artwork' Tim whose back was tattooed by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, displayed in museums and consequently sold to a private collector, Tunisian picture The Man Who Sold His Skin certainly has the intrigue factor going for it.

In Yahya Mahayni it also has an excellent lead actor who poignantly comes to grips with being dehumanised for art's sake. But though the film is never dull, that is where the good news ends, for The Man Who Sold His Skin ever more gratingly and bluntly bludgeons you with its central message of art versus commerce and humanity versus exploitation, leaving little room for nuance or thoughtful contemplation.

Writer-director Kaouther Ben Hania's decision to make the Syrian conflict central to the plot is just a cheap trick to introduce thematic heft and a forced romantic subplot is badly bungled, as is the predictable ending.

So while I was entertained by The Man Who Sold His Skin, I was also frustrated that the film merely touches upon themes that should be confronted head-on.

release: 2020

director: Kaouther Ben Hania

starring: Yahya Mahayni, Dea Liane, Koen De Bouw, Darina Al Joundi


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