What movie was that...?

02 April 2011

Mysterious Skin

directed by Gregg Araki

Gregg Araki’s newest film, Kaboom, is set for a wide-ish release very soon, and, frankly, I am skeptical about it. That doesn’t change the fact that his film about two young men bonded together by horrors from their past is still as fantastic, and harsh, as it was nearly a decade ago. Mysterious Skin is shocking, horrific and haunting, a story about two boys in a small Midwestern town who are consumed by their pasts, unable to shake, or even fully realize, the devastation it has caused them, until the truth brings them together. Joseph Gordon Levitt sets the standard for his entire professional career (which is high, by the way) as Neil, always thinking of his lurid youth, recklessly selling his body and lusting after a chance to leave the small town that imprisons him. On the other end of the spectrum is Brian, the shy, nearly asexual boy whose repressed memories have taken hold of him, manifesting themselves as nebulous dreams of alien abductions and lost time. Elizabeth Shue is marvelous as Neil’s mother, who finds a wild tenderness and steel strong love that is beautifully underplayed. Mysterious Skin deals with rough topics and is therefore not a film for everyone, but there is a core, a heart to the film that resonates. The film belongs to Brady Corbet, however, who plays Brian with an explosive vulnerability that, when coupled with his deliciously twisted turn in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (the remake), demonstrates a truly remarkable range. It’s a shame he’s not in more films. You should be taking notes, Hollywood.

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