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Mysterious Skin (2005) Gregg Araki has always been a filmmaker of extremes — wilder! kinkier! campier! more! — so perhaps it took a subject as extreme as pedophilia… 2005-05-20 2005-05-06 PT99M Drama Brady Corbet Joseph Gordon-Levitt Elisabeth Shue Michelle Trachtenberg TLA Entertainment
Movie Review

Mysterious Skin (2005)

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michelle Trachtenberg, ... | 'SKIN' CRAWLER The impact of abuse leaves very different craters in two boys
Image credit: MYSTERIOUS SKIN: Lacey Terrell/Tartan Films
'SKIN' CRAWLER The impact of abuse leaves very different craters in two boys
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Limited Releases: May 20, 2005, May 06, 2005; Length: 99 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Brady Corbet and Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Distributor: TLA Entertainment

Gregg Araki has always been a filmmaker of extremes — wilder! kinkier! campier! more! — so perhaps it took a subject as extreme as pedophilia to move the director of The Doom Generation into creating his first work of feeling. In Mysterious Skin, two 8-year-old Kansas boys are abused in the summer of 1981 by their Little League coach (Bill Sage), a practiced seducer of children who has the creepy look of a jock–turned–Chippendales dancer. The boys are marked in opposite ways: Brian (Brady Corbet), who entirely blanks out his night of hell, grows up into a stunted pasty nerd, convinced that he was abducted by aliens. Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the coach's ''favorite,'' suffers both less and more, becoming the most insolent of teen hustlers, and Gordon-Levitt, who has the horsey, mean-eyed sensuality of a Larry Clark pinup, gives a remarkable performance. Mysterious Skin dawdles more than it flows, but it comes alive whenever Araki, hovering between tragedy and voyeurism, reveals how sex can tear lives to pieces.

Originally posted May 11, 2005 Published in issue #820 May 20, 2005 Order article reprints