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Mysterious Skin [Blu-ray]

  • NR
  • Blu-ray
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • In MYSTERIOUS SKIN, an unlikely director takes on an even more unlikely lead actor and crafts a deeply felt coming-of-age tale that pulsates with the scalding beauty of tragedy. The director, Gregg Araki, whose over-the-top gay melodramas have been criticized as largely empty provocations, proves himself here to have great sensitivity. Yet it is the lead actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, best known for his work on the alien sitcom THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN, whose unforgettable, nuanced performance makes the film.

    Based on the novel by Scott Heim, the story follows two teenage boys living in small-town Kansas: Brian (Brady Corbet), a clunky and awkward fellow with no discernable social life; and Neil (Gordon-Levitt), a rebellious gay youth whose fragile beauty and cruel indifference make him a successful hustler to the area's older men. Having suffered from blackouts as a child, Brian believes that these voids were actually alien abductions, and goes on a quest to confirm this. As his memories become increasingly vivid, Brian convinces himself that Neil, the star player on his childhood Little League team and a regular presence in his dreams, knows the truth. Neil does, in fact, know exactly what happened: the boys were sexually abused by their Little League coach. While Brian has suppressed the incident, Neil has held it deep within him like a treasure, considering it to have been a loving relationship of respect and tenderness, the absence of which has left him emotionally empty. The two strands of narrative are braided together elegantly, slowly leading up to a devastating final scene. Araki unifies the stories through an elegiac, celestial tone that manages to avoid preachiness via doses of appropriate humor. MYSTERIOUS SKIN is so profoundly alive with sadness and beauty that it nearly burns.
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  • Credits
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, William Sage, Bill Sage, Michelle Trachtenberg, Brady Corbet, Jeffrey Licon
  • Critic Reviews
    "[Gordon-Levitt] gives a remarkable performance."
    Entertainment Weekly

    "[A] gorgeous, heartbreaking and utterly convincing work of art. Its characters stay with you, and by concentrating on the lives of two very different young men, it seems effortlessly to illuminate a period and a milieu."
    New York Times

    "This is a difficult film, a frequently heartbreaking one...[and] one of the best of the year."
    Premiere

    "There's a newfound maturity in MYSTERIOUS SKIN....The humour is more subtle, the dramatic scale greater, the emotional range far more sophisticated."
    Sight and Sound

    "Stylistically pared-down yet almost Lynchian in its lush, layered strangeness, MYSTERIOUS SKIN is a film of taut, flawless surfaces and haunted hidden depths."
    Uncut

    "SKIN finds Araki at his most sensitive and cautious."
    Film Comment

    Ranked #30 in Uncut's Best Films Of 2005 -- "[T]he performances from the two leads ensure this is an unforgettable piece of cinema."
    Uncut

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