Mysterious Skin - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mysterious Skin Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 28, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
February 13, 2010
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.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2011
"Mysterious Skin" is Gregg Araki's most accomplished and polished film. Granted, this is extremely difficult material and Araki is still working on a shoestring budget. What is most striking about "Mysterious Skin" is how Araki seems to be able to convey a structured narrative yet still remain squarely in his surrealistic visuals- that is no easy feat. The performances are typically Araki-esque, a lot of angst and attitude but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is able to find the pathos in it, making 'the Araki swagger' seem much more human. "Mysterious Skin" is a film that you will not enjoy and you will not forget. If you are willing to plumb the devastating emotional depths of child molestation and embrace these characters for their flaws, it will be much more rewarding. For serious cinema goers only.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2010
Two 18 year old boys from Kansas struggle to carry on with their lives after a traumatic experience in their childhood. They don't have anything in common, and they hardly remember each other's existence. Neil, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, is an over-confident (yet emotionally inaccessible) teenage hustler, while Brian is reclusive and extremely insecure, obsessed with the five hours that disappeared from his memory when he was 8 years old, after which he would often have night terrors and spontaneous nosebleeds.
Neil knows exactly what happened and tries to numb his pain and confusion with a reckless lifestyle. Brian's quest for answers leads him to a UFO obsession and then, finally, to Neil, who used to be in his Little League baseball team.
If I could only use one word to describe this film it would be powerful. Mysterious Skin's flawless screenplay takes on a subject as delicate as child abuse with empathy, respect, distance, honesty and fearlessness. It's emotionally draining and visceral, graphic too, but in a way that never ever feels morbid. In everything it shows it is simply being true to the facts and giving enough information for the audience to understand the graveness of what goes on. There are many awkward sexual situations but they are filmed from the character's (Neil's) POV and they are essential to the story because, after all, sex is the root of all his scars. Never does the film fall into sensationalism; in fact the content feels remarkably pure and innocent.
Neil and Brian are two of my favorite characters in film. Not only are they excellently written, both performances are truly outstanding: Joseph Gordon Levitt in particular takes on a difficult role, a character who doesn't know who he is. I was exhausted from just watching him. He portrayed a combination (or clash) of vulnerability and self-defense, adulthood and childhood, lust and longing, in an incredibly convincing way. He's done bigger films since this one but this is still one of my favorite performances. These characters are not just victims, they're completely three-dimensional humans that raise more than just compassion.
I admire Gregg Araki for telling a dark story in such a beautiful way. The cinematography and the soundtrack (mostly shoegaze -lovely) create an otherworldly mood, as if Brian and Neil had really been "abducted by aliens" and had returned with their feet still in another dimension. I found these allegories related to trauma and disconnection extremely effective. Over all, Mysterious Skin exudes wisdom. It was made with heart, consideration, and intelligence. I would say it's difficult to watch and will probably make you sick or make you cry... but I also think it's an unmissable contribution to anyone's emotional education.
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2010
Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines as Neil McCormik, a gay teen selling himself for cash. The struggle of fellow little league team mate Brian Lackey brings these two together to understand their shared struggle. I have my own personal experience that helps me relate with these characters. My experience combines these characters, minus the UFO excuse from Brian and the male prostitution of Neil. Having a movie that even touches on a similar experience and pretty accurately portrays the struggle is great!!
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2008
Had recently started reading the book this was based on, and wanted to rewatch the movie, which I saw years ago and loved.
I have to say, the book is way more detailed, so anyone who likes this movie really needs to check it out. That said, however, is still a damn fine movie!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really one of the better male actors out there and he pulls off the role as troubled Neil perfectly. The whole cast are outstanding, actually - Elisabeth Shue as his mum, Mary Lynn Rajskub as Avalyn (who is quite different to the book Avalyn) and even Michelle Trachtenberg is fantastic as Wendy.
It is not a pleasant topic, (child abuse), and it does not gloss over anything, while still being a beautiful movie to watch and very real.
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2010
This is a very powerful movie, a very dark movie, and, in many ways, a relevant movie. If I were reviewing Mysterious Skin as the book, I would say that it is fairly ordinary. Countless young adult books have dealt with rape, hustling, and child abuse. However, as a film, I have never seen anything quite like this. It is relentless. The camera and the story does not shy away from anything, and, like Precious, this is a movie that is powerful because of that. One of things I really, not "liked", but found interesting, is that most of the unsavories were ordinary guys. They were not played up to be mosters. They actions were awful, but the people themselves were perfectly normal. I liked this because it is eye opening in a way, but also, we are all capable or mosterous things. We may not molest children, but most everyone has been enraged by some trite event or intentionally misled or decieved someone. We've all done horrid things and we are all "normal" The baddies are not going to stick out like a skeleton jumping from the closet. They are just like you, just like me.

The only thing I did not like about Mysterious Skin was that I really did not feel emotionally attatched to the happenings. Everybody says it is hard to watch, but I really didn't care. I just didn't really believe in the story. Everything stayed within the proximity of my computor screen. That doesn't change the fact that this is a wonderful film. I would have to say that it is a "Must See Film" despite the fact that it is not entertainling, or visual, or clever, or anything else that you can reach out and grab and love.
Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2010
If it weren't for the poor production value and made-for-tv look, this would've been a flawless movie. It's such a bizarre, demented and fearless plot that you rarely see in movies. It's a tragic story, but it also lets you know that there can be redemption and peace after something horrible happens. I was blown away with the acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet, they were perfect for nailing down the tone of the film and making it work as well as it did.
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2009
This is the kind of film I don't like watching but end up being glad that I did. It was disturbing from the start. I turned it off a few times. Some of the scene's got to be too much for me. Once I knew where the story was headed is when I really wanted to shut it off. It's not easy sitting through a movie like this. I definetly closed my eye's at certain parts. I cringed throughout the movie. This is the second movie tonight that I have watched with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I am convinced that he can play any role given to him. In the end, this film was dark, horrifying, and heartbreaking. It was gut wrenching. The acting was extremely good. I do recommend others to see this movie. Just make sure you can handle it.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2007
A disgusting, disturbing, uncompromising look on sexual assault at a young age, and the emotional and eternal scars it leaves on the victims of these repulsive attacks. Gordon-Levitt, like always, is brilliant, in a very demanding role that requires him to go all the way, which he does. Corbet is quietly effective. The interweaving of the two young men's stories is flawlessly executed, leading to a rough, heart-wrenching finale that really draws you to each of the characters. Definitely NOT for everyone, a film that should only be seen for a select number that can handle the material put on display. It's one of the toughest movies I've had to sit through, and all do I think it is a good film, in fact, quite a good film, it falls pretty much under "Hard Candy" territory in the sense that it's a good film that I'll probably never want to revisit again.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2007
Not an easy film to watch by any means, Mysterious Skin is remarkable simply for its ability to convey many complex and powerful emotions without being manipulative. Some of the material here is downright horrifying, almost to the point of exploitation, but the shock someone as emotionally dead as Neil needed was bound to come at a high price. The film is an accurate, insightful look at coping with child abuse, decorated with a unique motif and channeled through a handful of really excellent actors. Is it any surprise that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career took off after this? He has charisma by the gallon; you can't help but what him while he's on screen. Brady Corbet, in a less showy role, manages to guide himself through a couple of emotional outbursts with perfect accuracy. Araki is also generous to Elisabeth Shue and several other character actors, populating his story with unusual, rich figures. The film is so lived-in and fully conceptualized that you leave it feeling like you've really been part of a different world.

Absolutely worth watching - but be warned again, this is extremely difficult viewing. Mysterious Skin deals heavily with pedophilia (never graphically, but the film is definitely not shy about telling you what happens) and rape, and if you take umbrage to seeing these subjects dealt with, this may be a bumpy ride. I also think, however, that there is no better film to see about the subject than this one. Free of sanctimony, beautifully composed, sensibly acted. A real gem.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2007
I love him for this movie...
Super Reviewer
½ November 22, 2006
I have complete mixed feelings about this film, the beginning made me feel pretty uncomfortable, which I?m sure was it?s aim and made the impact that was needed.

The rest of the film was fantastic and a well played lead role from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

A powerful film of child abuse, friendship and male prostitution, with some very strong images.
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2008
It's a movie that lingers with you because of its taboo elements, but not to the overblown extent of Happiness or Visitor Q as this story follows a smaller number of characters. This is the sort of film where you don't want to discuss it in a simple review because it will give too much away. I will say that this movie falls into that rare category in which a graphic rape actually serves more purpose than audience-targeted shock value. The worst thing about the two main characters' arcs is that one goes through a complete evolution (Brian), but the other remains static (Neil). I feel this is a purposeful comment, but still unsettling as in we want to see some sort of more profound realization on Neil's part. The dangling end of this movie is frustrating not because it is vague (it isn't) but because the movie could stand to have another sequence or scene tacked on after it. Kudos to the creator's for showing me a new level of terrible with the "five dollar special"."So Fucked Up" highlight:ugly bear guy rapes our anti-hero, "five dollar special"
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2007
Heartbreakingly sad. Very well done acting and character unfolding. And tell me when Joseph got hot please....
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2007
extremely well acted film on an important subject, also one of the most disturbing films ever. A sense of gloom permeates the entire movie.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2007
A film that is nothing but incredible. An obviously very disturbing look at the effects of child abuse on two teenage boys. Each deals with it in a different way. We are led on an emotional journey. Araki turns out a very mature film, which treats the audience as adult. A film you may not wish to remember, but will never forget.
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