Mysterious Skin (US, 2005)
directed by Gregg Araki
Two boys. One can’t remember. The other can’t forget.
It’s based on a novel by Scott Heim, about two boys subjected to sexual abuse in their childhood, and their different coping mechanism: Brian has nightmares and blackouts accompanied with nosebleeds of five hours he lost—couldn’t remember—when he was 8 years old, believing that it was a result of an alien abduction. Neil, on the other hand, remembers all too well the time he was seduced and molested by his Little League baseball coach. Brian grew socially awkward, while Neil pretty much flaunting (and hustling) his sexuality to anyone interested (and indeed there were many).
I’ve been anticipating this movie ever since Aoki told me about it (and even more so as I saw it popping at Sydney Film Fest (as well as Melbourne’s), always in positively glowing reviews), so when I finally managed to watch it, I was let down. It’s a-OK movie (and ahem, Gordon-Levitt is an eyecandy), but I guess I had my expectations too high up by all the publicity and, er, the recent dramas by the seething conservatives eager to ban the movie. I don’t see attempts at sensationalism in this movie, something that I welcome (in contrast to, say, Irréversible): no bombastic shot, sexual promiscuity is treated indifferently, while the subjects of pedophilia is sensitively handled without any attempt to glorify it. Nothing to get your knickers twisted. I guess what disappoints me most was the characterisation, along with the rather tacky if not sometimes cheesy dialogues.
I haven’t read the novel yet (still checked out from the library), but it looks interesting enough to flip through. In cinemas in Australia this August 18.
Mysterious Skin (Original Theatrical Director’s Cut) (2004)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet
Director: Gregg Araki
Mysterious Skin (novel)
by Scott Heim
Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (May 10, 2005)