A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien
abductions cross paths while discovering a horrible truth.
Mysterious Skin (2004)
Written and Directed by Gregg Araki
Starring Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, George Webster, Chase Ellison, Michelle Trachtenberg, Elisabeth Shue, Lisa Long
Based on the novel by Scott Heim
Mysterious Skin is based on the novel of the same name written by Scott Heim in 1995. It’s a very soul shaking film with jaw dropping style and killer performances. I recently reviewed The Living End and Totally F***ed Up which were both directed by Araki in the early 90’s and I was immediately entranced by his raw writing ability and audacious directing. Mysterious Skin is my favorite of the three films I’ve seen of his and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover his work.
Brian and Neil are the central characters as the story goes back and forth between their childhood and young adulthood. They were little league teammates at age eight and they experienced something that would change both of their lives in very different ways. As they get older, Brian becomes obsessed with aliens and the possibility that he ran into one as a child while Neil embraces his homosexuality and begins sleeping with men for cash as a teenager. The paths that they take in order for the final scene to happen is gut-wrenching but slightly hopeful and so worth the ride.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is un-fucking-believable as the older Neil. He rumbles around like he owns every space he’s in and it’s easily the best performance of his career. Brady Corbet gives a more subtle but also powerful performance as the older Brian who wears bottle cap glasses and struggles to give eye contact. Gregg Araki has blown me away and enticed me to check out anything he’s done when I get the chance. He’s one of the loudest voices in the New Queer Cinema movement and in your fucking face throughout his films. Mysterious Skin isn’t for everyone but I definitely found it to be an eye-opening experience kind of film.