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Film Review

Mysterious Skin

(May 27, 2005) Hi, Could not resist seeing Mysterious Skin tonight and doing some brief remarks, despite being frantic to get everything done in order to leave Sunday. Gregg Araki did the screenplay, co-produced, and directly this gem of a film. It is a heartbreaking, yet sweetly observed story of two young boys, both molested by their Little League coach in Kansas, and the effects on their lives. It follows the boys as they grow into late teenage years and beyond. The older boy becomes a gay hustler while the younger believes that he was the victim of an alien abduction because he cannot remember what happened to him. Both stories run in parallel, with frequent cutting back and forth, and only at the end do the two boys, now nearly grown, meet again. There are some brutal scenes of gay sex that are difficult to watch, but mostly we get to know and care deeply for both boys. The older boy, Neil, narrates much of the film, and the technique here is effective. The acting is uniformly excellent, with only one recognizable star, Elizabeth Shue, who plays Neil's mother. Original music plays through most of the film, and seems sympathetic to the various scenes. I was very moved by this film, and its depiction of how often childhood molestation continues to affect lives years later. This is not a downer film, but it is one that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. Just opened at the Clay.

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