Director: Gregg Araki
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zane Huett,
Mary Lynn Rajskub, Chase Ellison, Lisa Long, Michelle Trachtenberg,
Rachael Nastassja Kraft, Brady Corbet, Elisabeth Shue
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Cathay-keris Films
Released Date: 21 July 2005
When he was eight, Brian Lackey woke up in the crawlspace
beneath his house with his nose bleeding, having no idea how
he got there. After that, his life is different he is afraid
of the dark, wets the bed and is plagued by terrible nightmares.
Now 18, Brian believes that he was abducted by aliens.
McCormick is the ultimate beautiful outsider, the boy everyone
loves from afar but is afraid of when they get too close.
Also 18, Neil longs for the relationship he had with his baseball
coach when he was eight years old.
Neil's search for what he thinks is love leads him to New
York City. Brian's search for what happened to him leads him
to Neil. Together they come to realize that the events that
shaped them most were not what they seemed to be.
on the widely acclaimed novel by Scott Heim, MYSTERIOUS SKIN
puts us inside the hearts and minds of two very different
boys living very different lives who maybe aren't as different
as they first appear.
Mysterious Skin is a difficult film to grapple with. Not that
it is tough to understand, but because it is extremely provocative,
and might not sit well with some of the audience despite its
R21 rating. It could be that it possibly is the first film
screened here to focus on its niche theme.
upon a book by Scott Heim, the film starts off innocently,
chronicling 10 years of 2 guys life when they were kids. Both
are members of the same Little League baseball team, but the
development of their lives are in stark contrast to each other.
(Brady Corbet) believes he was abducted by aliens when he
was 8 years old. He can't account for certain periods at that
age when his memory is blanked, and suffers from mysterious
blackouts and nosebleeds. Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was
a victim of child sexual abuse. His Little League baseball
coach turned out to be a pedophile, who exposed Neil to his
first sexual encounter at age 8.
Brian's belief on his aliens theory was the actual witnessing
of a UFO takeoff with his
family, from the roof of their home. Also, the television
documentary "World of Mystery" had
interviews with abduction survivors recounting their harrowing
experience with aliens, which seemed in tandem with his own
strange nightmares. He strives to seek the truth of his probable
encounters by engaging in an exchange of letters, and meeting
up with one of the documentary interviewees, much to his mother's
perception of sex and sexual preference was probably skewed
after his enjoying his coach's attention and sexual acts.
He grows up to prefer gay sex and lives an underachieving
drifter's life of sex and drugs. He seeks out men and sells
his body to make money, boasting to his friends that he probably
slept with all the men in town, twice over.
Brian's investigations into his dreams brings him back to
the Little League days, and to Neil. However, Neil has gone
to New York, where his escapades actually become more dangerous
with each encounter. While I felt the film started to focus
on Neil and this area of gay sex, it doesn't preach nor attempts
to do so, giving only cursory mention of condoms and risk
of disease. Rather, one might ponder upon the hypothesis if
one's orientation is actually
determined biologically from birth, or actually can change
as a direct result of influence at a very
film builds up to the inevitable meeting of the two lead characters,
where Neil is actually the final puzzle to piece together
and account for the faithful disappearance of Brian. While
the audience might figure out this portion midway through
the film, what made an impact was the way it was delivered
- suggesting yet not showing, verbal and not visual. Just
when you thought you knew all the sleazy details, we're let
in on a "5-dollar game", which in my opinion, could
be a shocker to some.
narrative is split between the lives of the lead characters
and by timeline, but I felt a bit let down by some unfulfilled
subplots, which probably could have been explained in the
book. Supporting the two leads are a host of characters like
Avalyn, a survivor of alien abduction, Neil's friends Eric
and Wendy (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Brian's mother who provides
some much needed comic relief from the film's serious nature.
times, this film totters the thin line of smut, whilst not
showing everything on screen, simulated sexual acts of sodomy
and fellatio might not be comforting to those with weak stomachs
for something seldom shown on screen in Singapore. The "Mature
Theme" R21 rating is aptly given for Mysterious Skin.
by Stefan Shih