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The Film

   This movie has an online cover Mysterious Skin (2004)
Directed By: Gregg Araki


View Count: 2
First/Last Viewed:2006.09.18/2020.04.27
First/Last Reviewed:2006.09.18/2006.09.24

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The power of early childhood trauma is without equivalent. It is hard to believe that something that one may not even remember can have such a powerful effect for one's entire life. Generally, that effect is not good and triggers self destructive and/or psychotic behaviors. It can produces serial killers, and deeply troubled social misfits. This film presents a frank and viscerally disturbing look at two individuals who have been traumatized in such a way.

Two teenagers who have been traumatized in their early childhood are having a hard time coming to terms with the events: one can't remember, while the other can't forget. Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young hustler male prostitute. His homosexuality has been completely fashioned at a very early age when he was abused and pulled in by his baseball coach into multiple sexual play sessions. Brian (Brady Corbet) is very different. Obsessed with Aliens and convinced that he was once abducted, he is a very introverted and a very shy individual with no social life to speak of. As he starts to remember more and more of his supposed abductions, furtive elements lead him to search for Neil, who was in the same baseball team as he was 10 years before. Together, they'll realize that their future depends on exorcising their shared demons.

This film is very dark and unsettling, but i have never seen such a portrayal of the horrible after effects of pedophilia. Although difficult to watch at times, the film remains very honest and even sometimes tender and poetic in how it approaches the ultimate path of self-discovery the two young men pursue. This film will certainly shock many with explicit sexual and violent scenes and very scary moments of seduction between the adult coach and the young Neil. The cast is simply perfect and given the young age of many of the protagonists, it is surprising how powerful and truthful it all looks in the end. In particular, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who you may remember from the TV series 3rd Rock From The Sun or the recent innovative indie thriller Brick (2005), is starting to make a name for himself with fantastic performances. He is definitely one of the top young American actors today.

The film's unforgiving look at pedophilia and the difficulty with which two individuals try to come to terms with it is without precedent. The writing is sharp and bitter sweet as we guess the types of people those fundamentally good kids could have been otherwise. Amidst their deep pathos, the film lets a few rays of hope peek through as we witness their true inner self through simple acts. Incredible performances only add to the film's power and manage to create a deep empathy for its characters that you won't easily be able to shake off.

- Laurent Hasson