Film Screening 10th October, 2006

Poster for Mysterious Skin

Mysterious Skin 

8:00 PM, 10th October, 2006

  • R
  • 106 mins
  • 2004
  • Gregg Araki
  • Gregg Araki
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue, Michelle Trachtenberg, Brady Corbet

Mysterious Skin is Greg Arakis adaptation of Scott Heim's novel about the legacy of child sexual abuse. Set in Kansas and New York in the 70s and 80s, it charts the fate of two boys molested by the same baseball coach. One, Brian (Corbet), rationalises his experience as alien abduction and grows into a home-bound nerd. The other, Neal (Gordon-Levitt), recalls his experience as a seduction, relishes his sexuality and becomes a hustler. When Brian recollects details of the past, he seeks out Neal for a shared confrontation with the truth. Mysterious Skin is more reserved than Araki's early masterpieces (The Living End and The Doom Generation), yet his fans will recognise the director's humour and refusal to appease convention. Many viewers will find Araki's perspectives challenging, even shocking: the younger Neal makes it clear that he was already attracted to a certain type of adult well before coach took advantage of him, and his eventual embrace of the dangerous, sordid world of commercial sex is depicted as more life affirming than Brian's retreat into asexuality. Sad without being gloomy, wise without pretension, beautiful without eroticising or excusing exploitation, Mysterious Skin is a fine film. Fine and brave. Honest too.

Phillip Hilton