When we’re talking about coming-of-age movies, they are usually light comedies like Dazed and Confused or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Next up are relatively fucked up movies like The Chumscrubber and finally we have the truly fucked up and more importantly realistic movies like Kids, Ken Park and others. Mysterious Skin is one of those movies. It deals with some pretty heavy and taboo subjects like pedophilia and prostitution, all the while maintaining a coherent main story. Directed by Gregg Araki, who already dabbled with movies starring troubled teenagers in movies The Doom Generation and Nowhere, this is as objective as movie can get, when deconstructing such difficult issues. He’s not afraid to hang on scenes, leaving them to roll for an uncomfortable lengths of time. One wonders how to shoot a scene with 15-year old male prostitute… The atmosphere was at times almost unbearable as you have this natural urge to stop what’s going on the screen or help or talk to someone, but you can’t. This feeling of helplessness is a glimpse into the mental state of our protagonists.
Neil McCormick has had one hell of a childhood. Now 18 years old, he’s living in New York where he works as a male prostitute. He’s been doing that since he was fifteen years old and this lifestyle have taken a heavy toll on his life. His mother didn’t care much about this, so this is just a continuation of problems that started much, much earlier. One of his childhood friends, Brian Lackey fared no better. He’s convinced that he was abducted by aliens and has recurring dreams about the incident, with bed-wetting.
By reading all this, you might think: Fuck this shit, my life is already fucked up enough, I just want to watch some movies. I promise you, it’s worth it. People don’t want to know or hear about this shit and this is the reason why you haven’t heard of this movie before. Most of them are thinking that if they don’t know or see something, it doesn’t exist. Fucking assholes. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet and Elisabeth Shue, the cast did a terrific job. Joseph want to leave the image of a cute teenager from 3rd Rock from the Sun and this is the movie that showed that he’s capable of so much more. So, we have excellent script based on Scott Heim’s 1995 novel of the same name, phenomenal acting and directing, so the choice is pretty clear, check out this masterpiece. It might be difficult and depressing, but that’s life for ya, if you decide to bury your hand in sand, you will accomplish nothing but your own stupidity.
Director: Gregg Araki
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue, Michelle Trachtenberg, Bill Sage
Fun Facts: Gregg Araki cut the movie himself on his Macintosh computer, using Final Cut Pro 4.