Very strong movie with difficult content (by RackOutOfFocus)
I had high hopes for this film, since I have been a big fan of the novel on which it is based. The film exceeded my expectations in every way. Although quite faithful to the book with many lines of dialogue and narration moving straight from Scott Heim's poetic prose , the movie has more drive and focus and pulls you so far into the troubled characters. Credit for the movie's strength goes all around -- director Araki put his mark on the story without taking it over. He got uniformily good performances and somehow managed to direct scenes that any reader of the book would have <more>
thought completely unfilmable . Kansas has never looked better, or more sinister. The music is used well throughout.And the acting is terrific. The two youngest leads, Chase Ellison and George Webster, were entirely convincing in their scenes and I hope they feel proud of their work, seeing as how there's no way they'll get to see this movie until sometime next decade . Michelle Trachtenberg and Jeff Licon have fairly thankless roles, playing characters who are somewhat less clear and crucial in the film than their characters were in the book. But they don't sweat that, they just play what the screen play has them do, and they excel. Licon, especially, I think, although Trachtenberg is at a disadvantage, as her part is really pretty small.And for me, at least, I think Mary-Lynn Rajskub, Brady Corbet, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give about as good performances as one can give. Rajskub is so good that she gives the other actors in the film a space to react that is almost visible. Corbet is quiet and intense; if his performance sometimes lacks motivation, it is probably deliberate, as his character is struggling with identity and memory. And as for Gordon-Levitt, man, that guy can act. I really have a hard time thinking of any acting performance ever that has affected me as much.It is a difficult story, although I felt it ends hopefully. Hopefully, you will agree. Content is very strong, although perhaps not NC-17 strong. Not for kids. Adults, if you can get past the 2nd scene, you can get through it, but there is a lot of outlawed sexuality and violence. It is painful to watch at times, but to me at least, that's because the actors and the director managed to immerse me in the characters.
A brave, wide-eyed look at a controversial subject (by huladog55)
I have a feeling that most of the reviewers here have not read the text of "Mysterious Skin" by Scott Heim. Doing so would be most helpful in viewing this film.Out of sheer luck, I happened to find a screening in Las Vegas, almost a year after the initial release, having finished the book only one day before. It was an interesting experience from the start.One got the feeling of stepping into an adult cinema, instead of a semi-mainstream release. I was surrounded by sprinkling of older guys watching an NC-17 matinée. A first for me, for sure. The movie captures the feel of the book <more>
spot on. Director Araki should be commended for staying so close to the text. Hardly anything was left out and what was deleted did not detract from the storyline in the least.Heim's novel deals with subject matter that most people would prefer to deny exists. But back here in the real world, it does. On screen we see the sensualization of an 8 year old boy, along with his sexual fantasy. Not for the squeamish, but Araki communicates this brilliantly without diluting the message. Most people would shy away from a story that has an 8 year old boy having an orgasm as he watched his mother have intercourse, but Araki does not. And somehow he makes it okay.Hats off to the boys cast as the young Neil and Brian. Chase Ellison captures the emotions of his character very well. He captures the darkness of Neil McCormick incredibly, and translates perfectly from the written page. We sense the confusion turning into acceptance and then, desire. It made me squirm in my seat. George Webster as young Brian is great.I can't imagine a lot of actors lining up to play the boylover coach, but Bill Sage does very well. In the story, his role doesn't seem like a pure predator, but clearly he has devices at work. He's in the right place at the right time.Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a marvel is this film. There was a genuine quality to his character, an aloofness that comes with knowledge at an early age that is hard to put into words. Brady Corbett successfully brought his youthful character along, and I think his interactions with the other characters is spot on for someone who had had an experience like his.Critics will say that this film glorifies pedophilia. I disagree. I think it shows the effects of pedophilic relationship on different people, and how they react to it. It is a slice of life, albeit a very dark one, that does occur each and every day. Approach with caution and an open mind.
Araki has abandoned the nihilistic day-glo world of L.A teens to create his first truly great film. Indeed, by any standards, this film is magnificent. It follows two boys; one of whom was abused as a child and the other who believes that he was abducted by aliens' from childhood to their troubled later lives. The film has a visual beauty that pulls the viewer in even though the subject matter is both difficult and painful. The director pulls no punches in confronting the viewer with the horror of the situation but neither does he exploit it for tabloid style sensationalism. From the <more>
superb performances, the excellent and intelligent script, through to the inspired direction and stunning 'shoegazer' soundtrack this is a splendid film. I left the cinema deeply moved by what I had seen and can now only hope that Araki continues to work at this level of quality. Something quite special and a work of art
Powerful, Disturbing, Brave--Hat's off to Greg Araki, the cast and Scott Heim (by robkillian)
Just got back from the Sundance Film Festival. I am still processing this powerful movie and the stunning reminder of the cost some of life's choices bring to our lives. I was amazed at the brutal honesty of this story. While I cannot say enough about the acting, Brady Corbet's subtle portrayal of Brian should be honored and remembered for a very long time. Bravo to all involved with this movie.Before seeing this movie I could only remember that the novel, Mysterious Skin, had been disturbing. Greg Araki has made this novel into something that cuts emotionally but could also have a <more>
great impact in how people learn to deal with a painful past and the defenses they have built up to protect potentially devastating secrets.Anyone who wants a movie to move them, to make them feel and to think should do everything they can to make sure they do not miss Mysterious Skin
Sounds like a heavy drama, but has a strange lightness; refreshing and intelligent (by CharteredStreets)
"Mysterious Skin" is a mysterious movie. Not mysterious in a boring, unoriginal way, where the screenwriter screws you around with information; mysterious in the way that the characters are opening up in front of you, and yet they're still enigmas; their depths hidden in plain view. It is the story of two teenage boys who were both sexually abused by the same man when they were younger. You already probably think the movie is dark and heavy, but it's not; it imposes no message on the viewer, and does not come to any easy conclusions. It has a strange tone throughout a <more>
little like remembering something terrible and being unable to deal with it properly. The movie has a lot of sex in it, but it does not comment on the sex. Sex is just an important part of the characters' lives - to Neil because he is gay and enjoys sex with older men he works as a rent boy ; to Brian because he is not sexually driven, and is surrounded by something he wants no part of.When the two boys were younger, they were sexually abused by their gym teacher, played by Bill Sage. Neil remembers this almost with fondness; the beginning of his sexual exploration. Brian can't remember it at all; he blanked the episode out of his memory. The movie follow Brian through his journey to find out what happened during those holes in his memory, and Neil on his sad, slow decline from happiness.While Brian is seeking him out, Neil earns enough money to travel to New York, where he continues his lifestyle until, in a scene I found difficult to watch, he is drugged, beaten and raped by one of his clients, after which he goes back home to his mother played by Elisabeth Shue . Eventually, Brian tracks him down to find out what happened to him when he was younger.This could easily have been the material for a heavy drama that forces a message down the audience's throat, but what makes "Mysterious Skin" so good is its refusal to resort to black and white morals. It is true that the gym teacher is under-developed as a character, but at least he isn't shown as a two-dimensional bad guy; children who are victims of abuse often like the abuser, and it is brave of the movie to suggest that Neil actually enjoyed it at the time, not knowing how it would affect him later in life, or what was being done to him. People may find this aspect of the movie makes them uncomfortable, but it is supposed to. It's rare to find movies so honest about victims of abuse.The movie has a certain tone that's a little difficult to place; a certain lightness in details such as Brian's theory that he was abducted by aliens during his black-outs. It's not levity; more the feeling of trying to tolerate a damaged life. It has a certain erotic charge; it doesn't deny that Neil enjoys sex, nor does it suggest that he would have been straight and 'normal' were he not abused the audience is left to decide the extent of the damage done to these boys. Some people don't like movies like that; they want the movie to do all the work for them, and give them a neat little message that they probably already know. I prefer challenging movies that dare to go to new places. Such movies are not always good, but they are always interesting.It's difficult to get "Mysterious Skin" out of your head after you see it, and part of its strength comes from the two leads: Brady Corbet as Brian, and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Neil. I knew the latter actor from his goofy role in "3rd Rock From the Sun," and was amazed by his work here."Mysterious Skin" ends with the image of Neil and Brian in the old house of their coach, Brian lying with his head on Neil's lap, and it's the performances that make the image haunting. It's not sexual attraction that brings them together, but need and confusion. Poor guys. Brian blanked out the episodes because he couldn't face the truth, and Neil can't face it either, though he thinks he can. He even convinces himself he's happy. The smiling, friendly coach damaged them more than they know, but the movie's strength is in the fact that it doesn't make us pity them.
A disturbing, raw film with a powerhouse story and great acting (by MovieManMenzel)
"Mysterious Skin" is a movie that I heard very little about. Never saw the trailer, never saw a poster nothing. Until one day I was just looking up movies online and I came across this film. I looked up the website, watched the trailer, and said I want to see this. So I didn't get around to it when I lived in California since it came and went very quickly however the film did show up in a little theater about 5 miles from my house so I figured I have to check this film out and so I did."Mysterious Skin" is the story of two boys Brian Brady Corbet and Neil Joseph <more>
Gordon Levitt . Brian can't remember what happened to him when he was younger but he knows something bad happened. Neil on the other hand remembers every second of what happened and has let that take control of his life. The story continues to show Brian as a nerdy kid trying to find out what happened to him and Neil turns into a hustler. But in the end the horrifying truth comes out and their lives are changed forever.When this film ended, I just stood there and said wow that was really messed up and I felt depressed. The story is so raw and graphic. I don't think I saw anything this graphic since I first saw "Irreversible" a few years back. The movie feels so real and the events that occur to these two kids seem so common in today's society. I think it really hits home and that's why this film works so well.The lead performances by Brady Corbet and Joseph Gordon Levitt are terrific. Both are extremely believable and well acted. It's nice how they each played a character so different from one another. After watching Levitt in this film, "Manic" and "Latter Days," I am pretty convinced that the guy is one hell of an actor although he needs to stick to the independent films. And the same thing goes for Brady Corbet who starred in my favorite film two years back called "Thirteen." Also I feel it's necessary to comment on Michelle Trachtenberg here who played Neil's partner in crime Wendy. I really don't like Mrs. Trachtenberg probably because I saw her in the god-awful "Euro Trip" and in "Buffy" however in this movie she was pretty good. I think she played the supporting role well.Gregg Araki was both the writer and director on the film. I must say the man knows how to make a graphic and disturbing film. The movie at times is hard to watch because of how disturbing some of the scenes are. I haven't seen any of Mr. Araki's other films but I have been reading online and have heard that this is his masterpiece. I can't really say that I liked the film because this isn't a movie you come out of and say oh yea that was wonderful! You kind of come out of the theater saying man that was really f*cked up, kind of like the movie "Thirteen" although this movie is much more graphic. It's a great work of art as far as film goes and tells a deep and disturbing story well. The thing like I mentioned above that makes the film work is that this type of stuff happens in the world today which again is why "Thirteen" worked. It's shocking and disturbing but it's only that way because it feels and seems real.In the end, I think it's a really good movie with powerful performances and a great story. The movie is not for the weak hearted. I myself felt a bit disturbed by the film. The subject matter isn't very happy and neither is the story. The film is extremely graphic and raw. Some of the more disturbing scenes seem to run on for a long time which means that the film is working on its audience. I can't really pick a target audience for this film but if you like movies that are real and raw then you should check this out. This is a great movie that I think many would not be able to handle but for the few who can I think it really delivers.MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Mysterious Skin" is a 9/10.
An engrossing and challenging experience (by pygar61)
Not since HAPPINESS has such a difficult subject been tackled head on! Without spoiling any of the film, I will just say that I was engrossed in the film, shocked at how far the director was able to go, and heartened by how many issues he was able to raise, and show so many possible effects of what the characters go through. There were so many situations in this film that I had never seen portrayed before, that this proves how much film-makers avoid so many issues.A familiar, likable cast are taken deep into dark territory. I enjoyed all the performances and believed the characters, even <more>
though I had seen all the actors before on TV. The music is just wonderful - from the guy behind The Cocteau Twins - it adds to the dreamlike/nightmarish quality of the film. It's unusual enough to add to the uniqueness of this film - it really is ground-breaking - and Robin Guthrie's music/The Cocteau Twins haven't been used before in movies though you may have recognised Liz Fraser's vocals in the last Lord of the Rings soundtrack .This film impressed me the most in 2004 - I hope everyone gets a chance to see it!
this film is wonderful but at the same time it will chill you to the bone. The acting is generally good with the exception of joeseph gordon levitt being outstanding. Some scenes are very tough to watch and others will make you laugh out loud. Araki has been away for some time and his return to film is great to watch. He has faithfully adapted the script of scott haim, and been very truthful to a story that could have easily been destroyed by some Hollywood studio giving it a glossy coat. One criticism would have to be that it lacks in giving some of the characters more development, but then <more>
Neil: "I wished with all my heart we could just leave this world behind. Rise like two angels in the night and magically disappear. " (by Galina_movie_fan)
Mysterious Skin 2004 directed by Gregg Araki is powerful, shocking and absolutely convincing in every detail movie about two teenagers that were deeply affected by the events of one long hot summer of their childhood; events that one of them could not forget and the other desperately tried to remember. Ten years later, their lives could not be more different - Neil Joseph Gordon-Levitt has became a gay hustler, cynical, manipulative but charismatic, while Brian Brady Corbet , nervous and shy believes that he was abducted by the aliens for some strange experiments.The film like this <more>
requires very good performances from all cast members and it's got them from everybody but Gordon-Levitt is simply the shining star and I'll make sure from now on to check out all his new movies.