4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent if disturbing story,
This review is from: Mysterious Skin (Deluxe Unrated Director's Edition) (DVD)
Here is an unusual piece from infamous director Greg Arraki, who is known for such works as Nowhere, Splendor, and the Doom Generation. This is the adaptation of the novel Mysterious Skin. It deals with two young boys who are molested by their baseball coach. They both take radically different paths in life, but both bear the scars of their oredeal. This is a very deep and emotional work, but definitely not for the squeamish.
The film begins with the two characters(Brad and Neil) as children in the same baseball team. Neil has begun to develop sexually, admitting to finding men attractive and basing his attraction of his single mothers lovers. The other, Brad, is a shy and nerdy child, whose father wants him to join the baseball team despite his lack of interest. Neil ends up becoming closer and closer to the coach, already attracted to him, and the coach ends up taking advantage of this and molesting him. Though Neil in his naivity glorifies this, thinking of it as his first love. The damage done to him is obvious in the images shown of him interacting with his peers. Brian on the other hand isn't sure what happened to him. He has vague memories of baseball practice, rain, a blue light, and being found at home wet with a nosebleed and no memory of what happened.
When we cut to the future the two kids have taken radically different paths in life. Neil has become a rebel and a street hustler in his small town. He abuses drugs and has unprotected sex with almost anyone he can. He works as an announcer part time for the baseball field. His close friends are often concerned about his dangerous lifestyle and nihlistic look at life. Brian on the other hand is a college student and very straight laced. But he is strangely subdued, nearly asexual, and doesn't appear to have any friends. He lives with his mother and goes to college. His father left when he was young and has little to do with him. He puzzles over his lost memory and nosebleeds, and is eventually convinced he was abducted by aliens. This isn't done in a comedic fashion as he pursues it with unusual zeal. Going as far as to contact stangers to compare stories. Though they take different paths, the damage is obvious, and their worlds start to slowly draw together.
This was an unexpected movie for filmaker Greg Arraki. He is known for his bizarre take on teen sexuality, surrealistic imagery, and fetish for alien abduction. This is a much more subdued film, abandoning the surrealism and complex dialogue of his normal fare. It still shows his fascination with alien abduction, but it portrayed in a very innocent fashion. His interest in teen sexuality is there, but on a serious note. Showing the damage done to two children and how their lives where changed because of it. The portrayal is graphic, and will make you uneasy, but it feels less like a fetish of the directory(i.e. Larry Clark), and more an unflinching view of a traumatizing event. The acting is excellent; Joseph Gordon Levitt makes a suprising turn from the youngest son on Third Rock From the Sun to the sleazy hustler Neil. His portrayal is very believable, though Neil is cocky and arrogant but has a restless and desperate nature, seemingly scared of downtime and less sure of himself than he acts. Brian was well played by Brady Corbet. Playing a young adult that has shut off part of himself. He pursues his life with a childlike innocence that is at times charming and sad at the same time. As well as showing the deep torment he doesn't understand when his curiosity drives him to explore his past.
This film is well worth watching, but defintely not for squeamish. From the uncomfortable scenes of Neil and his coach, to the damaged to the damaged youths they both become. But beyond it is a quite remarkable movie worth watching for many reasons.