By Owen Gleiberman
May 11, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
MYSTERIOUS SKIN: Lacey Terrell/Tartan Films

Mysterious Skin

B+
type
  • Movie
Genre

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.

Mysterious Skin

type
  • Movie
Genre
runtime
  • 99 minutes
director
Performers
Studio
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