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Mysterious Skin (2005)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 103
Fresh: 87 | Rotten: 16

Bold performances and sensitive, spot-on direction make watching this difficult tale of trauma and abuse a thought-provoking, resonant experience.


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 3

Bold performances and sensitive, spot-on direction make watching this difficult tale of trauma and abuse a thought-provoking, resonant experience.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 37,061

My Rating

Movie Info

"The summer I was eight years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours, lost, gone without a trace..." These are the words of Brian Lackey, a troubled 18-year-old, growing up in the stiflingly small town of Hutchinson, KS. Plagued by nightmares, Brian believes that he may have been the victim of an alien abduction. Local Neil McCormick however, is the ultimate beautiful outsider. With a loving but promiscuous mother, Neil is wise beyond his years and curious about his developing


Art House & International, Drama

Gregg Araki, Scott Heim

Oct 25, 2005


Tartan Films/TLA Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Mysterious Skin

October 5, 2005:
Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up #3: The Best of the Limited Releases
In the hot summer months, everyone's looking for a way to cool down. This summer, movie audiences...


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All Critics (113) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (16) | DVD (15)

Gone is the gloomy nihilism of The Doom Generation and The Living End, replaced by a melancholy, but hopeful, affection toward people with the capacity to overcome tremendous psychological trauma.

July 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Araki's best film in a long time.

July 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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The audience has gotten the point roughly 90 minutes before the characters do.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Comments (2)
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Manages to deal with its raw, awful subject matter in ways that are both challenging and illuminating.

July 21, 2005
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a challenging and ultimately moving film that deserves to find a like-minded audience.

July 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[...] For a movie about something as painful as child sexual abuse, Mysterious Skin doesn't repel. There's an allure to the images, which are as carefully posed and framed as figures in a softly illuminated dollhouse.

March 17, 2014 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Contains a few flat notes of community participation, but Araki locates all the necessary surges of hopelessness and misguided desire, ending victorious in his quest to adapt Scott Heim's provocative novel.

March 7, 2014 Full Review Source:

By exploring the taboo topic of paedophilia in a humanist manner that avoids sensationalising or heavy-handed verdicts, Araki's eloquent, sensitive film actually presents an indictment far stronger than any moral grandstander ever could.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

a bizarre, beguiling coming-of-age drama

August 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

treads harrowing ground without falling into the pit of cliché

September 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Araki's film is a wrenching examination of childhood trauma and abuse.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

"Mysterious Skin" is a devastating yet beautiful film that honors its fragile characters with vital respect.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source:

Even with the numb dialogue and trite characterizations we've come to expect from Araki, Mysterious Skin might have worked with the right actor in the charismatic role of Neil.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International | Comments (4)
Film Journal International

This one clearly has more meat on the plate than Araki's earlier more shallow and sensationalistic films.

July 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Gregg Araki nous offre son %u0153uvre la plus mature à ce jour.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Panorama

Sensível e tristemente trágico, o filme é um doloroso estudo de personagens beneficiado por uma atuação estupenda de Gordon-Levitt.

January 3, 2006
Cinema em Cena

Gordon-Levitt's performance is nothing short of astonishing.

November 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

A raw and unadorned look at child abuse and its idiosyncratic repercussions.

October 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Mixed Reviews

Araki has given us his most mature work yet, a fiercely focused yet oddly dreamlike meditation on innocence and loss.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

A superb achievement.

September 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A riveting original that some may find almost too agonising to experience

August 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Sweet and disturbing at the same time.

August 19, 2005 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Delicately balances the sordid and rough with the childlike and fantastic...

August 15, 2005
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

From a moralistic point of view, is it good that Araki is exposing the awful horrors of sex abuse? OK, I'll buy that. As a pedophilic expose, is it too much? For me, yes it was.

July 28, 2005 | Comment (1)
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Audience Reviews for Mysterious Skin

A college freshman who believes he was abducted by aliens searches for his old Little League teammate, now a male prostitute, thinking he holds the clue to the mysterious events of his childhood. Something like MIDNIGHT COWBOY with a bit of "The X Files" thrown in, this painful and graphic drama explores how similar traumas can produce opposite effects.
March 28, 2014
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Mysterious Skin has an interesting idea for its plot, and frankly is a pretty disturbing film. The film has an engaging story and a good cast. At the center of the film is Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role of Neil McCormick, who is a homosexual hustler and has had a dark childhood by being sexually assaulted by his pedophile baseball coach. Mysterious Skin then follows Neil on his quest to finding what actually happened those many years ago, as many of those events were a blur. The film is terrific, but as I've said it's also fairly disturbing. The cast do a fine job here and the story has enough momentum to keep you entertained, eve3n though it's fairly slow, the story is always engaging and dramatic. Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt is excellent in the role of Neil, and he really brings out one of his best performances. I felt that Levitt added a certain a certain cocky innocence to character. Mysterious Skin is a well crafted film by director Greg Araki, however because of its story; it won't appeal to many viewers. This is really the type of film that can divide an audience. Despite the subject matter, Mysterious Skin is a solid film with minimal flaws. The great cast and directing keep this film afloat and everyone involved really make this a good film. Mysterious Skin is a terrific drama film that you shouldn't pass up on, love it or hate it, this is a powerful film.
October 14, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Honestly speaking, I did not expected what I have seen in this movie. I did not read the story line because I like surprise. I just look at the genre and that's it. But for this, I looked at the rating and saw this. It does happens in real life, yeah sad but true. But this is not my taste. It's very disturbing.
August 29, 2011
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

I was completely taken from the story. It was already inferred from the first 5 minutes but leaves such a large trail of "what really happened" behind. Its not a classic but definitely worth watching. Might be hard to watch to some viewers but satisfying in the end.
July 6, 2011
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Mysterious Skin

    1. Mrs. McCormick: You'll always be my baby.
    – Submitted by Lillian H (20 months ago)
    1. Neil McCormick: And as we sat there listening to the carolers, I wanted to tell Brian it was over now and everything would be okay. But that was a lie, plus, I couldn't speak anyway. I wish there was some way for us to go back and undo the past. But there wasn't. There was nothing we could do. So I just stayed silent and trying to telepathically communicate how sorry I was about what had happened. And I thought of all the grief and sadness and fucked up suffering in the world, and it made me want to escape. I wished with all my heart that we could just leave this world behind. Rise like two angels in the night and magically... disappear.
    – Submitted by Nikoleta P (2 years ago)
    1. Wendy Peterson: I see the way you look at him.
    2. Eric Preston: He's so beautiful. I can't help it. He's like a god.
    3. Wendy Peterson: You don't have to tell me, I was infatuated with him too once. But I know all Neil's secrets and there's shit don't even want to know about. Trust me. Once I'm gone, you'll be all Neil has...and you have to understand one thing. Where normal people have a heart, Neil McCormick's has a bottomless black hole. And if you don't watch out, you can fall in and get lost forever.
    – Submitted by viktor g (2 years ago)
    1. Neil McCormick: I hate it when they look like Tarzan and sound like Jane.
    – Submitted by Sara H (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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