Some people are just meant to come into your life, just as you’re meant to come into theirs. It can be for the most random of reasons, and it can be over in an instant, but you can’t help but feel it was supposed to happen that way. You’ll get the exact same feeling watching the story of Caitlin (Monica Zanetti) and Leah (Zara Zoe) unfold in Skin Deep.
This isn’t a love story, though I suppose you can interpret it as one. We have two leads–one a lesbian, and the other very likely straight. Oh, and no sex. And yet I’m telling you, you’re going to want to see this one through.
Maybe I’m giving away too much, but I really do want you to watch this one for the right reasons. You will never hear me say I’m tired of all this lesbian romance I’m constantly exposed to. But did I get a kick out of watching a movie with a lesbian lead that had nothing to do with her finding or losing the love of her life? Yup, I did.
Friendship can be equally as beautiful, and Skin Deep gets it right.
Let’s get into our characters. Caitlin is suicidal and Leah is dealing with terminal melanoma, although they don’t know of either’s plight when they first meet. On that note, what a first meeting it is.
Leah’s an out-of-towner, only in the city to see a specialist. While she’s waiting for her deadbeat boyfriend to pick her up, she browses through some CDs outside a shop, only to have Caitlin snatch a CD from her hand. Turns out she’d been looking for that one for like forever, so Leah will just have to forgive her.
Turns out she doesn’t, even when Caitlin’s all apologies when she finds Leah still waiting around for her boyfriend hours later. But the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach, and Leah can’t resist Caitlin’s offer to buy her a meal (plus, she doesn’t have much choice since she forgot her wallet). She relents.
Leah: Man, I must be coming across as the biggest bitch.
Caitlin: You are. But it’s okay because you’re pretty.
So they get to know each other. It turns out Caitlin’s a psychology student and Leah’s a photography school dropout. Her own issues aside, it doesn’t seem Caitlin’s been paying a lot of attention in class–she assumes straight-laced Leah is a user because of the marks on her arms and actually asks her where she can score some good heroin!
Well that was as good a time as any for Leah to let her know she has cancer and that she’s not seeking traditional treatment for it. A couple of drinks in at this point, Caitlin naturally thinks it’s her duty to show Leah the night of her life.
Wheelchair joyrides, more drinking and tattoos follow. Also, an awkward run-in with Caitlin’s ex and her new girlfriend…
Caitlin’s pretty fucked up over how things ended. Actually, she’s pretty fucked up in general. It’s an amazing contrast–someone who is physically healthy, but wants to end her life for seemingly inexplicable reasons, and someone else that’s received a death diagnosis and yet has convinced herself she’s going to survive without any help.
Inevitably it all comes crashing down, and when it does you realize you’re watching something special.
While there are definitely some heavy moments in this movie, don’t think you won’t laugh–because you will. The snark game is good, and Zanetti and Zoe have wonderful interplay and chemistry.
Now yes, you’re going to get some of the old “straight girl thinks lesbian is into her” and “straight girl throws herself at lesbian” bits, but the film is so self-aware that this likely won’t throw you. In fact, I loved those scenes.
What more can I say that I haven’t already said? Strong performances, an original storyline and good writing make Skin Deep one of my favorite festival watches of 2015.
Visit the movie’s Facebook page to find out when it’s playing at a film festival near you.