Mysterious Skin directed by Gregg Araki follows the lives of two boys, sexually abused at the age of 8 by their baseball coach, in a small town in Kansas. At that time, Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had already shown signs of homosexuality, and mistakenly interpreted his coach’s actions as the induction into sexuality, setting him on a course of being attracted to older, bearish men. At the age of 15, he turns to prostitution, and soon leaves home to work in New York City.
Brian (Brady Corbet), on the other hand, develops the condition of psychogenic amnesia, and forgets what happened. As he grows older, he becomes more withdrawn, with glimpses of the past event interpreted as an alien abduction, pulling him into conspiracies about extra-terrestrial life. When he meets a 19 year old girl with similar beliefs, the two become intimate, but a sexual experience with her sets him into panic.
Brian then tries to decipher his blurry memories, and soon finds a picture of his old baseball team, sending him on a path to find Neil. After a bad experience with a trick in New York, Neil decides to return home, and soon reunites with Brian for the first time in over a decade. The two break into their old coach’s home in a moment of catharsis, as Neil reveals to Brian what had happened to them both in reality, causing Brian to break down and sob in Neil’s arms.
“Not for the squeamish, but it is a beautifully crafted and thoughtful film that genuinely provokes.”
— Lou Lumenick, New York Post
“A deft, affecting drama about childhood sexual abuse and its lifelong scars.”
— Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
“A warped, but beautiful and strangely hopeful, coming-of-age tale.”
— Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly
Did You Know?
Mysterious Skin was the subject of some controversy, and was stamped with an NC-17 rating in the United States, which caused the producers to decide to release the film in America without rating altogether instead. In Australia, the Australian Family Association sought to ban the movie outright, believing it to be somehow useful for paedophiles, despite the film’s clear and strong anti-paedophilia message. Review our Gay Themed Films here