“Mysterious Skin” (Strand Releasing) is not one of those films that you will likely forget about. It is a deep and profound film with a lot to think about. It is exactly what movies are about—transporting to somewhere we do not know and introducing us to it. I am not sure that I would want to be introduced to what “Mysterious Skin” had to show us but I am glad that I was made aware of it. Sexual predators have never been my taste but having seen all of Gregg Araki’s work, I had an idea that this movie was going to indeed be an experience Araki took a great novel by Scott Heim and attempted to turn it into a great movie. In many aspects he succeeded. Movies about hustlers and child molesters are nothing new. In the last two years we seem to have had a lot of them.
The movie has some excellent performances and some very disturbing footage. We meet Brian who seems to be a well adjusted kind. But he lost five hours of his life to a nosebleed and for some reason he thinks he was abducted by aliens. We also meet Neil who is the opposite of Brian. Neil sees his coach on the first day f baseball and although a kid voices that he has feelings for him. When the coach makes an appearance, it is quite clear to us, the audience, where the movie is going. From his molestation of Neil, the coach sets up the chain of events that the movie will follow. We tune in some ten years later and see that Neil is a gay teen hustler who is anxious to leave the small town where he lives. Brian. Meanwhile, is obsessed with his abduction and is searching to found out what really happened that night. As the movie progresses it becomes deeply disturbing. Some of it is very strong and this is probably due to its candidness.
There has been a great deal written about this film—some good, some bad, nothing neutral. In many cases I think for some, the movie hit very close to home. Everyone agrees that it is disturbing. It is brutal but it is real. It is violent and one scene still makes me shudder—the rape of the teenaged hustler interspliced with child molestation.
Did I like the move? I don’t know. I am torn—some of it is sheer beauty and poetry while some of it is gratuitous. I had expected much more. Some of my friends raved over. I guess I will just have to watch it again. The problem is now that my mind has already been influenced—in both directions.