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Brian Lackey is determined to discover what happened during an amnesia blackout when he was eight years old, and then later woke with a bloody nose. He believes he was abducted by aliens, and N. McCormick, a fellow player on Brian's childhood baseball team, may be the key as to exactly what happened that night. As Brian searches for the truth and tries to track him down, Neil McCormick takes up hustling and moves to New York, in attempts to forget childhood memories that haunt him. Together, the two of them uncover the terrible truth of the scars they share. Written by
Original novelist Scott Heim wrote a draft screenplay which he then entered into the Sundance screenwriting lab. Gregg Araki was on the judging panel and the two became friends. Eventually it was mooted that Araki himself tackle the material. See more »
The scene of Neal running in downtown New York after leaving his john with AIDS is actually Downtown Los Angeles. See more »
The summer I was 8 years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours. Lost. Gone without a trace.
Last thing I remember I was sitting on the bench at my Little League game. It started to rain. What happened after that remains a pitch black void.
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A brave, wide-eyed look at a controversial subject
I have a feeling that most of the reviewers here have not read the text of "Mysterious Skin" by Scott Heim. Doing so would be most helpful in viewing this film.
Out of sheer luck, I happened to find a screening in Las Vegas, almost a year after the initial release, having finished the book only one day before. It was an interesting experience from the start.
One got the feeling of stepping into an adult cinema, instead of a semi-mainstream release. I was surrounded by sprinkling of older guys watching an NC-17 matinée. A first for me, for sure. The movie captures the feel of the book spot on. Director Araki should be commended for staying so close to the text. Hardly anything was left out and what was deleted did not detract from the storyline in the least.
Heim's novel deals with subject matter that most people would prefer to deny exists. But back here in the real world, it does. On screen we see the sensualization of an 8 year old boy, along with his sexual fantasy. Not for the squeamish, but Araki communicates this brilliantly without diluting the message. Most people would shy away from a story that has an 8 year old boy having an orgasm as he watched his mother have intercourse, but Araki does not. And somehow he makes it okay.
Hats off to the boys cast as the young Neil and Brian. Chase Ellison captures the emotions of his character very well. He captures the darkness of Neil McCormick incredibly, and translates perfectly from the written page. We sense the confusion turning into acceptance and then, desire. It made me squirm in my seat. George Webster as young Brian is great.
I can't imagine a lot of actors lining up to play the boylover coach, but Bill Sage does very well. In the story, his role doesn't seem like a pure predator, but clearly he has devices at work. He's in the right place at the right time.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a marvel is this film. There was a genuine quality to his character, an aloofness that comes with knowledge at an early age that is hard to put into words. Brady Corbett successfully brought his youthful character along, and I think his interactions with the other characters is spot on for someone who had had an experience like his.
Critics will say that this film glorifies pedophilia. I disagree. I think it shows the effects of pedophilic relationship on different people, and how they react to it. It is a slice of life, albeit a very dark one, that does occur each and every day. Approach with caution and an open mind.
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