Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin is a searing and inventive exploration of the way the mind reacts to trauma, especially in terms of formative childhood experiences, and follows two teenagers as they deal with the memories of being molested as kids, eventually meeting to confront their pasts together. It must be said that only one of these narrative threads is truly engrossing: the story of Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a queer teenage prostitute who is solipsistic and arrogant, yet still conspicuously disturbed and frustrated. The other boy, Brian (Brady Corbet), has repressed his own horrific experiences, resulting in long-term memory blanks that he later convinces himself are the result of alien abduction, which is interesting in concept but not in execution.
The uneven tone of the movie adds to the difficulty of stomaching its subject matter, and certain plot points towards the end can be seen coming a mile off, but other than that, Mysterious Skin is commendable for its performances, bravery, soundtrack, and the way it makes you feel: often dirty and extremely uncomfortable, although not without some beautiful moments where escape seems possible.
Mysterious Skin was written and directed by Gregg Araki (based on the novel of the same name by Scott Heim) and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Elisabeth Shue. It lasts for 105 minutes and is distributed in the UK on DVD by Tartan. Originally released in 2004.